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April 2014

exclusive wise guide inside

sw inspires


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Cynthia A. Scott w w w. s y r ac u s e wo m a n m ag . c o m :: april 2014


because the sky has no limits

because the sky has no limits

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“It’s impossible to map out a route to your destination if you don’t know where you’re starting from.” — Suze Orman It’s time to be WISE, not just in April, but every month! For the past two years we have had the honor of playing a big role in the annual WISE Symposium and this year is no different. Every month we feature a Wise Women’s Business Center page, but this month, you can flip to page [27], and find your official WISE Women’s Magazine! This exclusive magazine will help you navigate the April 8 event at the Oncenter. On the topic of “wise women,” you will notice that this edition is filled with inspiring stories about women entrepreneurs and women who are assisting others in reaching their goals. I encourage everyone to take some extra time to read these stories because you will definitely find one that you can identify with. Whether you are a business owner or not, the different journeys taken are sure to inspire you to push forward and maybe even dream a little bigger. This month’s cover woman has definitely taken a journey (or two) all her own. In this edition, you meet Cynthia A. Scott, the president and founder of OMC Financial Services Ltd. While she is well-known for her knowledge in finance and investment and has a very successful firm to show for it — being an entrepreneur was not something she had planned or even dreamed of. Her story is one that is relatable. We must all admit that it’s not easy, and never will be, to know exactly what the future holds, which makes it hard to set career plans in stone. Turn to page [22], and I know that Cynthia’s ever-winding journey will surprise you, inspire you, and comfort you, because you will know that there’s someone else who made it to their destination despite the obstacles.

Another incredible quality that we must remember to have as strong women is determination. I have examples of determination through my own endeavors, but my own mother has proved to me time and again that nothing is impossible. Her positive spirit and work ethic are exceptional and I have her to thank for my own headstrong attitude and confident nature. Because of this connection with my mother, I was happy to meet Gwendolyn Hubbard last year. Although she has some physical limitations from having cerebral palsy, the restriction stops there. Gwen’s determination is inspiring, but words cannot express how amazing she is. On page [66], you will learn a little more about her and I’m certain you will also agree. Next month we will host the SWM Health & Wellness Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 31, at Method 360 in East Syracuse. Visit us online at SyracuseWomanMagazine for more details on this great event! And don’t forget, we are getting closer to revealing our inaugural Bridal & Beauty Book, which will be out in June with an exciting bridal fashion show featuring everyday women like you. The SWM Bridal Fashion Show is set for Sunday, June 15, at Café at 407 in Liverpool. The event will feature bridal fashion and accessories from local stores, makeup artistry and photography, and guests will enjoy a delightful brunch. And it’s all to benefit Ophelia’s Place! As always, keep in touch with us online on Twitter by following @SyrWomanMag. You also can follow me on Twitter at @FarahJadran for behind-the-scenes coverage of SWM and lots of tweets about running, food and fashion! Until next month, be beautiful and genuine. In other words — be you! Sincerely,


OUR TEAM Publishers

Kelly Breuer Barbara McSpadden


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Farah F. Jadran

Creative DIRECTOR Kelly Breuer

Photography Cindy Bell Rick Needle Jussara Potter

Contributing Writers Linda Cleary Lauren Boudreau Jasmon Brown Susan Dutch Alison Grimes Emma Grossman Farah F. Jadran Alyssa LaFaro Tracy Tillapaugh

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AUnlike d vanye rother t i spublication e w i tinhthe Syracuse u s . . . area, our feature articles address major topics that interest local women.

Each issue includes articles on health, fashion, fitness, finance, home matters, dining, lifestyle and personal perspectives, as well as a spotlight on local Syracuse women. Ads are due on the 15th of the month prior to publication. The print magazines will be distributed locally in over 350 locations and will be in your inbox electronically by the middle of every month. The publication is available free of charge. Contact our home office 315.434.8889 2501 James Street, Suite 100 Syracuse, NY 13206

ON OUR COVER... Cynthia Scott, founder and president of OMC Financial Services Ltd, was shot by Cindy Bell, of Focus Studio at 920 N. Salina St. in Syracuse. Makeup artistry and styling by Antonietta Moritz.

Download our media kit at The magazine is published 12 times a year by Syracuse Woman Magazine, llc. and Eagle Publications, 2501 James Street, Suite 100, Syracuse, NY 13206. Copyright © 2014 Syracuse Woman Magazine, llc. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or republished without the consent of the publishers. Syracuse Woman Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts, photos or artwork. All such submissions become the property of Syracuse Woman Magazine, llc. and will not be returned.



Draft Day - 4/11 On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL..

OUT & ABOUT THERESA CAPUTO LIVE! THE EXPERIENCE - April 6 The Long Island sensation Theresa Caputo is coming to Syracuse on April 6! Known for her TV show The Long Island Medium, Theresa is one of the most successful commercial “psychics” today. The show is currently in its fourth season and follows Theresa’s life as a typical Long Island wife and mother of two, except she has one extraordinary gift: communicating with the dead. Messages from beyond bombard Theresa wherever she goes, so she has made it her duty to help the dearly departed and the living both receive some closure. She has been a practicing medium for 10 years and is a certified medium with the ForeverFamily Foundation, an organization dedicated to connecting science with the afterlife. During the show, Theresa will give interactive readings to the audience and share personal stories about herself and her unique gifts. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at, by calling 475-7979, or at the Landmark Theatre Box Office. Tickets start at $39.75 plus applicable service charges and are subject to change. You can learn more about Theresa at

TAKE ME TO VEGAS — May 2 The Crouse Hospital Auxiliary’s “Take Me to Vegas” fundraiser will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, May 2, at Justin’s Tuscan Grill in East Syracuse.

Heaven Is For Real - 4/16 The true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, lifechanging experience with the world, starring Greg Kinnear a and Kelly Reilly as the real-life couple whose son Colton claims to have visited heaven during a near-death experience. Todd and his family are then challenged to examine the meaning from this remarkable event.

The Other Woman - 4/25 After discovering her boyfriend is married, a woman tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he’s been cheating on, she realizes they have much in common, and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend. When yet another affair is discovered, all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on their cheating, lying, three-timing SOB.

Brick Mansions - 4/25 In the criminal underworld of Detroit, the streets are overrun with violence and drugs and the hand of corruption reaches everyone. For Lino every day is a fight to live an honest life. But when a drug lord kidnaps his girlfriend, he is forced to team up with Damien Collier, an undercover cop who’s been tracking this king pin’s involvement in something even more sinister – a plot to devastate the entire city.

The night includes international food stations, cash bar, a silent auction, an exclusive jewelry drawing from Henry Wilson Jewelers, a variety of gaming tables, and live “Vegasstyle” entertainment featuring NYC Cabaret singing with music direction by Bill Zeffiro. Central New York native singer, Marissa Mulder, will also perform.

The auxiliary has pledged $1 million toward the construction of the Chris J. and Marshia K. Witting Surgical Center at Crouse Hospital. “We are very close to completing that pledge,” said Connie Bull, the auxiliary’s secretary. “Proceeds from this event should put us over the top.” For more information about the event or to reserve tickets, contact Connie Bull at 315.288.5294 or email

SWM’S HEALTH & WELLNESS DAY — May 31 As many of you know, we will not be hosting an expo next month, but don’t worry — we’ve got you covered! Join us from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 31, at Method 360 in East Syracuse for Syracuse Woman Magazine’s Health & Wellness Day! We’re proud to partner with Method 360, which focuses on, “real fitness for real people.” Inside the wide open space of Method 360, you will get the chance to visit with local awareness groups focusing on women’s health, plus you also will meet some nutrition and fitness professionals, and also some spa and beauty professionals. Attendees will enjoy a small “swag bag” (a limited amount!), raffles and door prizes, fitness demos by Method 360 trainers with the chance to try a workout or two, and much more! Plus, it’s free to attend! Save the date and stay tuned for more details in our May Health & Wellness Edition and at Visit us on Facebook, “like” the page and post on our wall that you’re attending and you’ll be entered into a special Facebook Fan drawing!



theBlack Olive


april 2014 ::

in the Cuse’

BY LAUREN BOUDREAU I PHOTOS BY RICK NEEDLE It’s hard to believe that just six years ago, Black Olive, located at 204 W. Fayette St., was merely an idea. It’s a restaurant that has become such an integral part of the city of Syracuse, that community members actually helped renovate Black Olive’s new location. From painting murals on the wall, to reupholstering, Black Olive’s customers have become more like family helping a relative move in to a new place than actual paying customers. And, of course, the restaurant gave back by “adopting” these customers into their “family” by giving them jobs. “That shows you right there how much community support we have,” says Scott Chambers, floor manager of Black Olive. Now seating 151 people, the restaurant has a mix of traditional Greek cuisine aromas and modern chic decor. Still maintaining its part-nightclub status, the space is divided into a large bar and dance floor area where prize-winning cocktails are made, and a family-style dining room through French doors that is reminiscent of royalty. But don’t be fooled. It is still the same Black Olive you know and love. “Some people come looking for us each week and they know who’s working and who to look for,” Chambers says. “A lot of people get requested now, ‘I want this server,’ or ‘I want this bartender.’” They haven’t only grown in size, but their wine list has grown as well. Among their most popular wines are Simi Chardonnay, Mount Beck, and Chateau. However, if you are looking for a way to drink and give back, they have a list of four wines where proceeds benefit three non-profits: breast cancer awareness, Ventana Wildlife Society, and Operation Homefront, which provides assistance to military families. Because of their success, the Black Olive has taken the chance to give back in other ways, too. Chambers and bartender Danny Espinoza, who has won multiple prizes for his martinis, founded Pink Tutus for a Cure, a fundraiser that helps fight breast cancer. Renee Salvia, the other prize-winning bartender for her margaritas, “kicked cancer’s butt,” according to Chambers. Not only her, but the Olive’s owner Basilios Koumanidis’ mother is also a survivor. Chambers said they had to do something since Espinoza “lost a couple people in the last two years to breast cancer and our DJ has also lost a couple people.” If you’re wondering where the tutus come in, it’s when they raise a certain amount of money and both Chambers and Espinoza bartend in pink tutus. If the ambiance and the charismatic nature of the staff aren’t enough to entice you, there’s always the food. Specializing in Greek cuisine, Black Olive’s head chef David Duffy not only makes the delectable dishes listed on the menu, but will cater to any specific request a diner has. Duffy has free reign to create whatever dish he feels will be popular. “Say you came in here and you had one of his specials but it’s not that special that night, he could do that for you,” Chambers says. “A customer could just say, ‘Dave make me something,’ and Dave will create something tailored to that customer.” It is not uncommon for a dish that was made for one specific person to snowball into a new most-requested dish. Among their most popular dishes are the Mount Olympus, which is a Delmonico steak, pork chop and a chicken breast and the Makedoniko, which is shrimp scallops and sausage in a spicy tomato sauce, both of which are dishes meant to be shared by two people. While all this may sound good, Chambers says making a reservation is wise because the restaurant is very popular. To experience the Black Olive, visit them at 204 W. Fayette St., call at 399-5599, or find them on Facebook.





There is nothing like walking into a room full of entrepreneurs and having your outfit own the room. But, let’s get real — buying business attire can be a little expensive and being self-employed can make it even more difficult. While our finances are limited, our wardrobe does not have to be. Business may come first, but I have the best locations with the tricks and tips to find the best staple pieces for your closet for all budget levels. For the big brands on a budget woman: If brand name bargains are your thing then you want to shop at places like outlet malls, Marshalls and TJ Maxx. These stores carry major clothing brands in a wide price range. You will be able to shop top labels for less than half the price. The clearance and sales racks can have some amazing items for extremely low prices so make sure you really look through the racks. This is a great way to stock up on staple pieces like blazers, blouses, skirts and pants. For the very limited budget woman: When your budget is very tight the thrift and consignment stores are your best friend. “Thrifting,” as it is commonly called, can fill up your closet on the smallest budget. You will have to really look through the racks but you can find incredible pieces. You will also find big named brands there as well. The most important thing before you shop at a thrift store is finding the best store locations. Great staple pieces for thrift stores are blouses and dress slacks. For the non-existent budget woman: Many entrepreneurs find themselves without the money to buy new clothing and often wonder how to get the items they need. If you have no money to put aside, don’t worry, everything you need is already in your closet. Finding items you don’t wear anymore and altering them is a great way to save money. For example you can remove the sleeves off a top or turn a dress into a skirt. That is a very easy and inexpensive way to get new items. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a seamstress to do this. You can always go to a tailor or even go to your local sewing store for great items like fabric tape to help you along your way. There is nothing like a great look to match your amazing confidence. Staple pieces can never go out of style and they will be the foundation to all of your looks. As your budget increases so can your shopping locations and brands. You can find great pieces at all of these locations regardless of your budget, so don’t limit yourself. You can find gems as long as you are willing to look for them. Now that you have your closet stocked with staple pieces, here’s your chance! You will be networking with hundreds of entrepreneurs on April 8 at the annual WISE Symposium at the Oncenter and you will have the chance to share business ideas.

S t a n d firm, be confident and recite your elevator speech as if you are the only one in the room. Now is your time to be a Wise Woman! Jasmon hosts body image coaching, image consultations and various workshops. Find more information on Follow her on Twitter at @SizeFabulous.

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Findsto Boo With the WISE Symposium just around the corner, we thought your business getup could use a little boost. We sent intern Lauren Boudreau to find the latest trends and tech to help you look professional and be business-ready.

UPGRADE THAT ANCIENT PHONE It’s time for your phone to get smart. If you cannot access the Internet from your mobile device, there’s a problem. As a woman on the go, you will need to check your email constantly to ensure everything is running smoothly whether it be with your own business or not. Get a data plan so you can access the internet while taking the bus or train. You need to stay on top of things and this is one way to do that!

BE CONNECTED If you don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account, now is the time to get one. The most important aspect of a business or yourself is the art of branding. Media is how you attract attention to yourself and put yourself out there for others to look upon with interest.


get a new look


ost your Business Business is all about presentation. Whether you own the business or not, as an employee, you represent it. Clothing stores like 3Fifteen, Eco Chic Boutique or Clothes Mentor (and many more in Central New York) have classy yet chic pieces at low costs. As a general rule, try to avoid denim and keep skirt lengths at knee level.

tech gear Nowadays it’s all about technology. You can get gear accessories that makes working out of the office easier, like an adjustable laptop riser for $20 from, a laptop cooling pad for $20 from Best Buy, or a portable keyboard to put on your iPad for $50 from Best Buy.

briefcase Don’t be fooled, a briefcase can look feminine and be a classic accessory and business tool, if you buy the right one. The line is narrowing between what is actually a briefcase and what is a purse. You can find many stylish purse-briefcase hybrids at any major department stores, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, and also, locally-owned stores mentioned in our “new look” finds!

words ::in her own

From the

McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

BY LINDA CLEARY I PHOTO BY JUSSARA POTTER Each year, thousands of children in Onondaga County are sexually and physically abused. One in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. A year ago, when I was named the executive director for McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, I thought one child is one child too many. My mission is to do everything we can to prevent another child from being abused and enduring the trauma that comes from it. Every child deserves to have a happy, carefree life. At McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, when families arrive, they are greeted by a dedicated child advocate and a team of professionals that help the abused child and family begin their journey of healing. The Center is a comfortable, safe, child-friendly setting where sexually abused children can receive coordinated services all under one roof. On March 18, 2013, I was honored and proud to be named the new executive director of McMahon/Ryan. I had previous experience as an executive director, as well as experience as a program director, but knew this would be a tremendous challenge and opportunity at a significantly higher level. This was a challenge I was ready and willing to take on. The statistics of child abuse are frightening and I strongly believe that prevention is key in the fight against it. Every six minutes a child is abused in the United States, and 90 percent of the time the child knows his or her abuser. In many cases, it is someone they love and trust. Nearly five children die every day from abuse and neglect. My first month at McMahon/Ryan was a whirlwind, spent getting to know the agency staff, but also getting to know a diverse team of topnotch professionals that comprise the child advocacy center. This multidisciplinary team includes law enforcement detectives, child protective case workers, medical clinic personnel, mental health therapists, and assistant 16 April 2014 :: district attorneys from the Onondaga County Special Victims Bureau.

Rounding out the center are McMahon/Ryan child advocates who “hold the glue together for families” and prevention education and community outreach specialists. During that first month, it was pinwheels, pinwheels, and more pinwheels! April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and so begins the Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign. The pinwheels represent an innocent, carefree, happy childhood that every kid deserves. They also serve as a wonderful way to bring awareness to child abuse prevention. This year we hope to see pinwheels all over the community. Some community gardens will already be on the campus of Onondaga Community College, Syracuse University, Columbus Circle, and Meachem Field, just to name a few. For those businesses that don’t have a plot of grass to plant a garden, we’ve got them covered too, with our pinwheel wreaths and pinwheel garden pots. We also have pinwheel lapel pins and prevent child abuse wristbands, as well. Child abuse is preventable! At McMahon/Ryan, we serve as a resource for parents and families, connecting them with help, support and resources. Every child deserves a healthy, nurturing childhood and the opportunity to grow to become a caring, productive adult. When abuse happens, it harms more than just an individual child’s chances for success — it harms a community’s quality of life.

Every child deserves to have a happy, carefree life.


5:30-9:30 p.m.

Holiday Inn, Liverpool Enjoy a celebrity fashion show hosted by local boutiques, shopping with local jewelry and clothing vendors, basket raffles and more.

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This event has sold out each year, so purchase your tickets today at or by calling 315.476.1027.



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Back to ‘broke’ for a bigger future


My husband Mark and I have made a tough decision this year, and that decision means being broke, again. Why, you may ask? The biggest reason is that we felt like our life was stuck in a vicious cycle; we worked hard all day, only to put the kids to bed and spend the night on the couch exhausted. However, through those years of hard work and sacrifice, we have another option available. The income from this blog, speaking engagements, seminars, etc., is enough to pay our bills and live. So we made the HUGE decision for Mark to step away from his career as an actuary and join me full time on this website. Mark has been commuting 50 minutes each way to work for the past 11 years. He doesn’t see our kids in the morning, and doesn’t get home until around 5:30 or 6 p.m. This has left me to work full time on this blog doing my media segments and seminars, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, taking care of the kids, soccer practice, ballet, school, homework, playing nurse, and everything else that goes with being a full-time mommy and wife. I love doing all of these things, I truly do, but it is exhausting (as any mom can attest to). Many people might think that working from home must be an amazing opportunity…and if you don’t have kids, it might be. But with four very spirited kids, it is nuts. After more than three years of living this way, we realized that our life had gotten far too crazy, and decided to make the jump and become self-employed. So after much prayer, consideration and saving for an emergency fund, we decided that being broke is enough for our family. If having the luxuries of life means that we can’t provide the fun and nurturing home life for our children that we desire, then we will forgo the luxuries and live simply. Being broke is enough for us. Before I continue, I should clarify what I mean when I use the term “broke” — we will have enough to live on each month, but that’s about it. No luxuries or extra money, but that is OK with us!

20 20

And I know this is a tricky topic, because many of you so deeply desire to have more money to provide for your family and maybe get out of march 2014 :: April 2014 ::

debt, and I totally understand that! I was in those shoes seven short years ago. I remember the feeling of just wishing and praying that someone would hand me $10,000 so I could live a little and pay my bills. I realize that I might get some negative feedback on this article — you might be scratching your head, asking, “why would we give up a good income just to struggle again with finances?” This is a HUGE faith step for us; it is scary but yet so exciting! As I am writing this, I have tears running down my face. The life that we had seven years ago, $40,000 in debt with no way out has led us here. I want to pinch myself. All of those late nights I worked at the restaurant, working on getting out of debt, downsizing from our new 3,200 squarefoot home to a 900 square-foot rental home to get out of debt, never going out on dates, eating on $50 or less per week…all of those things brought us to where we are today. You see, this freedom of being debt-free gives you so many options — options that were once only in our imagination. Never dare to dream of the impossible — because you never know where that dream will lead you. All moms sacrifice for their families. Whether you are able to sacrifice financially and stay at home, or if you sacrifice time by working and providing financially — you’re doing it — you are enriching your family. You are sacrificing so that your children can grow up in the best environment that you can give right now. And that is enough. Mark and I are so passionate about turning our financial struggles into helping others and I am so excited for the year 2014 for many reasons! For more about Lauren, follow her blog at, or follow her on Facebook at and on Twitter at @iamthatlady.

Success in Syracuse

Cynthia Scott’s destination:

Syracuse woman celebrates more than 30 years of entrepreneurship


April 2014 ::


While some of us might have followed our plans to a tee, it is more likely that you didn’t. No matter what turns you take or what obstacles you come across, it only matters that you persevere and reach (and surpass) your goals.


Because Cynthia A. Scott started her career on track to become a history professor, you may not have guessed that she’s currently celebrating 32 years of entrepreneurship as a the president of OMC Financial Services, Ltd. — focusing more on the future than the past. OMC Financial Services is an independent, Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm specializing in investment management, estate planning and retirement counseling for individuals, families, professionals, small business owners and trusts. But how did Cynthia end up at this destination? “Fear!” said Cynthia. “I was always afraid, so I always kept working harder.” How long has OMC been in business? OMC Financial Services Ltd. was founded in 1982 and has been an RIA firm since 1988. What is an RIA? Not all financial services companies are the same. Registered Investment Advisors are held to strict standards and have a fiduciary duty to act in their clients best interests. What does the WISE Symposium do for women? “It gives women a forum to see what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are,” Cynthia says. “Meet other women who might be in your same profession and go to breakout sessions, so you can self-evaluate. You will find out if you’re in the right business, and you can confidently ask yourself, ‘What should I be doing that I am not doing?’”

Having been formerly married to a professor, Cynthia discovered soon enough that the life of academia was not right for her. After this realization, Cynthia took a turn down the road of real estate. In less than a year, she had already found great success in the field. However, as a single mother, she also found that buyers and sellers did not have the same schedule as she did. And so, she started on yet another route. Cynthia’s next held position was as an insurance agent for a major company in Erie, Pa. “I came to the company with the attitude that no one wanted to purchase life insurance and no one would want to buy it from a woman!” Cynthia said. Despite her preconceived notions, Cynthia had a good experience and learned about estate planning and investments. This was the beginning of her newfound career. “Everything I learned sparked my interest and curiosity.” In 1982, it was time to leave Pennsylvania and continue


With her young daughter Melissa in tow, Cynthia moved to Syracuse for the next turn on her path. Her only two contacts in Syracuse were one of her former professors and his wife. “They were my support and they helped me with the move,” Cynthia said. When Cynthia came to Syracuse she was a full commissionable broker and she initially planned to partner in a business with her “support staff” — however, within six months she realized she was meant to be an entrepreneur all her own. Once again, Cynthia’s “fear factor” kicked in, and she forged on to continue her journey. “Here I am, a woman in a ‘man’s world’… Who’s going to listen to me?” She hired three people to do cold calls so that she could acquire 10 qualified leads. “I kept calling people,” Cynthia said. As she moved forward, she bought a marketing list and made calls every day. “I was very persistent.” And if someone wanted her to call at another time because they weren’t ready for investment planning — she did.


In the end, it’s all about the journey and not the destination, right?

her journey elsewhere. With some money in the bank, she made yet another career change.


What do you want to be when you grow up? Think about what came to mind when you were 10 years old, and then, when you were 20 years old. The answers might have changed a few times, as well as the path to achieve these goals.

One of her longest-standing clients was one of her “callback” prospects, and he was not quick to underestimate her skills of persistence or her expertise in investments. “I called him every three months for a year,” she explained. “And finally he said, ‘If you handle my money as well as you are responsible in calling me, you are the one I will work with.’” Cynthia describes her business personality as “tenacious,” although she says many people wouldn’t guess this by first glance. Cynthia furthered her career by hosting numerous seminars and luncheons to share her knowledge with potential clients, especially women. From 1982 to 1987, Cynthia was working as a commissionable broker…and she says, “I thought I was brilliant. I couldn’t do anything but make people money…they made money in bonds, and if interest rates went down, they made money in stocks.” At the peak of her success, she said, “Why isn’t everyone doing this? It’s so easy!” But then Oct. 19, 1987, happened — the Stock Market Crash — and reasoning kicked in. “Then, I knew why,” Cynthia said. “I entered at the golden time.” Because of the 23-percent dive in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the largest one-day drop in history, Cynthia made the decision to no longer be a commissionable broker. “I called all of my clients to get their permission to sell for them based on their portfolio from Friday to Monday,” Cynthia explained. “The warning was Friday and the real event was on [Black] Monday.” Although Cynthia got permission from her clients to make quick decisions, she decided the best thing to do was to wait it out instead. “It was the best decision I could make,” she said. “Six months later, and a turning point of my career, I decided to become a fee-based business with discretion. In the end, it made my life easier and also for my clients.” This way Cynthia could react quickly and make decisions to benefit her clients. In 1988, her company became a fee-based Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm. Now, more than five years into her journey as an entrepreneur, Cynthia had lost 50 percent of her clients with this new format. “My clients simply couldn’t picture paying a fee.” With her daughter in mind, a house payment and car payment, an office and one employee, she was worried about the state of her business. Although scary, she knew it was the right decision. “I don’t ever want to visit that time in my life again.” :: april 2014


story ::cover

During her new venture, she brought a new colleague into the business plan. Greg Jennings, who is in the process of becoming a partner at OMC, came aboard 20 years ago. “We complement each other. He is laid back and I am the thoroughbred filly…we work very well together,” Cynthia said. “He will soon be a partner, and he deserves it. He has worked so hard.” And if you’re still waiting to find out what “OMC” stands for, so was I… “OMC, I guess it was supposed to be ‘Only Money Counts,’ but in all honesty, it stands for ‘Outstanding Mother of the Century,’” Cynthia laughed. “And then my daughter turned 13. We still kept the name though!”


There’s no question that Cynthia’s self-proclaimed tenacity and determination played major roles in bringing her business back. In addition, her knowledge in investments was well-known throughout the community, and well-respected. Soon after, she was asked to be a co-columnist for a financial editorial in The Post Standard, and she also had many guest and guest-host appearances on local TV stations to give financial advice. “Syracuse has been very good to me,” said Cynthia as she affirmed her sentiment with a genuine smile. Many clients came to Cynthia because of her advice given as a past guest-host on, “Financial Fitness,” a weekly show formerly hosted by her colleague Dan Pluff, on Central New York’s local Public Broadcasting Service. “When people would come to me from the show, I would ask them why they chose me,” she said. “Many of them said they liked my philosophy and they were comfortable with how I felt about investing.” To this day, Cynthia does not regret moving to Syracuse, nor does she regret transforming her business into an RIA firm. “There were lots of ups and downs, the crash in ’87, changing to fee-based and the tech bubble.” But none of these challenges have rivaled her confidence in her decision-making. “I had many connections in Dallas and Pittsburgh, but I wanted to be close to my daughter, and I knew that I would have that here in Syracuse.” For example, Cynthia valued the proximity of her business to her daughter’s school. “If she was sick or needed me, I knew I could be there in 15 minutes. It was so important to be close to her.” This definitely was not something she could rely on, if she lived in a bigger city. “This area works for women.” Cynthia has created genuine and long-lasting relationships with her clients all because of a basic approach. “I am very detail-oriented,” she said. “When a client comes in, I want to have a conversation with them so I can get a broad picture.” Cynthia asks about any and all assets, discusses the matters of a will, life insurance, income, general planning, and “where they are” in terms of finances. If a new client has an existing portfolio, she will look through it and examine what they own and then balance it. She performs these steps in accordance with her client’s retirement track in mind. “I don’t believe you can invest someone’s money without knowing who they are,” Cynthia said. “I’m taking care of clients and what they need.” Some investment firms do a questionnaire, Cynthia explained, but she says it does not go deep enough to really know a client and how 24

April 2014 ::

to invest their money. Plus, Cynthia says it’s even more important for her to “truly know” her clients because of her discretion policy. “Having the ability to move money for them…I need to know them and work for them,” she said. “They trust me enough to give me that [discretion] and I want to protect their investments.” Because Cynthia believes in a “balanced portfolio,” she advises her clients to avoid investing 100 percent in stocks because there’s a possibility to lose principle with market fluctuation. “It’s their money and they work hard for it.”


“I was introduced to the WPO [Women Presidents’ Organization] by invitation and I didn’t know anything about it.” Cynthia is a member of the first of two established WPO chapters in the Syracuse area. The WPO is a non-profit 501(c) (6) organization formed to improve business conditions for women entrepreneurs, and to promote the acceptance and advancement of women entrepreneurs in all industries. A part of the WPO’s mission states that it is the premier membership organization for women presidents & CEOs (and managing directors) of privately held, multi-million dollar companies. Through global, confidential and collaborative peer-learning groups, the WPO accelerates business growth, enhances competitiveness, and promotes economic security. “It is the ultimate destination for successful women entrepreneurs,” according to “I met the qualifications and was quite honored,” Cynthia said. “I met a lot of great women through it.” In fact, many past Syracuse Woman Magazine cover women are also WPO members, such as Nicole Samolis (July 2012), Anne Messenger (Sept. 2012), and Karyn Korteling (July 2013). Plus, many of the other local chapter members have been featured on the pages of SWM over the past three-plus years. Cynthia says the local chapter of the WPO has been very helpful in that she and several women can relate to one another because they’re at a different level of business. “It’s great to talk to other women who understand your business issues and it’s been great.” With this long and winding journey coming to its final destination — continued success in Syracuse — the journey has been anything but boring. In many ways, Cynthia found her career path not by deciding what she wanted to do in life. Rather, she made her journey by deciding what she didn’t want to do.



I don’t believe you can invest someone’s money without knowing who they are. :: april 2014


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Melinda Emerson SmallBizLady, CEO of Quintessence Multimedia


The 2014 savvy speakers Tell all! LEarN aBOUT THEir paST, prESENT aNd fUTUrE pLaNS!

STYLE STRATEGIES… 4 Tips To improve your wardrobe!

paY iT fOrward


SmallBizLady Shares

7 Steps to Reinvent Your Small Business



advice | capital | education | networking

connecting women in business Key4Women provides customized business advice, access to capital, ongoing education, and networking opportunities. KeyBank has always been committed to helping women in business find the right financing solutions. Key is committed to lending $5 Billion in capital to qualified small businesses over the next three years. As a member of Key4Women, you’ll be part of a nationwide network of entrepreneurial and professional women that can help you build relationships, find new business opportunities, and share ideas and solutions. Key4Women is proud to support the 2014 WISE symposium as part of our dedication to helping women in business find the resources they need to succeed. To join Key4Women visit

call Rani Ristau at 315-314-8988 Stephanie Leonard at 315-470-5143 Rachel Galusha at 315-470-5066 visit your local branch

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COMFORTABLE COMFORTABLE NY WomanOwned OwnedBusiness Business NY State State Certified Certified Woman

Suzanne DeFuria Suzanne PresidentDeFuria President


in this issue... Q: Do you have any WISE words of wisdom?


WISE MagazInE annUaL 2014 ContrIbUtIng WrItErS Renata Mutis Black Kate Brodock Me’Shae Brooks-Rolling Deborah Cabral Gayle Carson Amy Cosper Jennifer Creighton Peg Elliott Melinda Emerson Marion H. Fish When you focus on problems, you will have more problems. When you fOcuS ON POSSIbIlITIES, you’ll have more opportunities.

Jessica Herrin Karen Hough Kaushal B. Nanavati, MD Joanne Lenweaver Timothy Smith Ann Marie Stonecypher Alexandra Waterbury Lindsay Wickham Judy Wicks

Highlights from The 2013 WISE Symposium! 4

a LEttEr froM thE dIrECtor


thE WIndoWS to SUCCESS: an InSIdE gLanCE of thE WISE WoMEn’S bUSInESS CEntEr




daILy doSE of InSPIratIon


dECLUttEr yoUr Work LIfE: 6 SIMPLE IdEaS to IMPLEMEnt noW!

ContrIbUtIng PhotograPhErS Cindy bell, Cindy Bell Photography Caitlyn bom, Caitlyn Bom Photography Laura brazak, Laura Brazak Photography iStock Photo Wikipedia

ManagIng EdItor Lindsay Wickham


dESIgn and ProdUCtIon amy Isca, Isca Design Studio

WISE CEntEr board of advISorS 2013-14 zina berry, DDS, Berry Good Dental Care, PC terry brown, Whitman School of Management Jennifer Creighton, FOCUS Greater Syracuse Suzanne defuria, Potter Heating and Air Conditioning and Perrone Plumbing alyse holstein, hpg partners, LLC amy Isca, Isca Design Studio focus each day on your own HAPPINESS.




Is Your Business Blooming?

Joanne Lenweaver, WISE Women’s Business Center Cathy Pokines, U.S. Small Business Administration rita reicher, KS&R


8 aPPS that WILL booSt yoUr ProdUCtIvIty


What’S trUSt got to do WIth It


fInanCIaL LItEraCy Month IS for WoMEn EntrEPrEnEUrS, too


SMaLLbIzLady’S 7 StEPS to rEInvEnt yoUr SMaLL bUSInESS


MEEt JESSICa hErrIn, CEo & foUndEr of StELLa & dot


Pay It forWard by gIvIng othErS a SECond ChanCE

rani ristau, KeyBank nicole Samolis, The Events Company (chairperson) rachael Stanton, U.S. Small Business Administration ann Marie Stonecypher, AMS Models & Talent and Your Better Style alexandra Waterbury, WISE Women’s Business Center gwen Webber-McLeod, Gwen, Inc. Lindsay Wickham, Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship

ContaCt: Lindsay Wickham Events and Communications Manager, Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University Phone: 315.443.3550 Email: Web: Web:

Surround yourself with a TEAM of experts/mentors/family/friends who SuPPOrT and ENcOurAgE your success.

DrEAM bIg, work hard, and have fun!




Style Strategies: Win the Battle and the Wardrobe 26

CELEbratE yoU!



letter from the director

“Start with the end in mind.” -Stephen Covey

Push Off for Your Gold!


ou and I have just witnessed hundreds of individuals set goals, convince themselves those goals are achievable, create plans on how to get to those goals, and actually achieve them before our eyes. You and I have just witnessed the Sochi Olympics!

body and your budget (determining the cost to yourself and your family); and first and most importantly, crossing the finish line (the well-planned launch of your business). What parallels can be made in hurtling a bobsled team toward a finish line and motivating a sales team to meet goals for a small business!

Every small business owner can identify with that 90-second ride downhill. It’s a lot like running a business every day. Frightening. Exhilarating. Educational. And just as every skier adjusts his run to the changing snow conditions, every business owner must adjust her business plan to accommodate growth and change. As athletes distill years of hard work into seconds of pure focus, they have already envisioned themselves in first place. Winning the event or making the bucket at the buzzer is a foregone conclusion.

A quote by Stephen Covey fits here: “Start with the end in mind.” In this case, the “end” is your business launch. If you start with that end envisioned and concrete, the process of writing your plan and making it a reality is a matter of execution. You can already see the ball going in the basket before it has left your hand because of pure focus.

The clarity they possess at the moment they push off the starting line, is enviable. There is no discussion about “What if I can’t do this?” and no asking “Can I step out of my boundaries to do this?” These athletes have made an inch-by-inch plan with their coaches and they are ready to make it happen. I want all entrepreneurs to be as focused!

So, envision your finish. Don’t be sidetracked by the voice inside your head or challenging conditions. Your plan will create the kind of run you envision. Every day as a business owner is totally different from the next, but the winners possess the one winning characteristic—focus! Now, push off and go for your Gold!

Jetting across that line incorporates all the traits of launching a business: desire for a Gold medal (passion for your business); analyzing the athlete’s physical strengths and weaknesses (filling in the business SWOT analysis); hiring a trainer (engaging a coach or business counselor for the basics); determining the cost to your

Joanne Lenweaver WISE Women’s Business Center Director

Joanne Lenweaver is the Director of the WISE (Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) Center located in the Tech Garden in Syracuse, NY. The WISE Center opened in 2006. Joanne is its second director. The Center was established through a five-year grant by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and a matching grant from Syracuse University. Joanne’s entrepreneurial experience includes nineteen years as President of Lenweaver Advertising + Design, Inc. and co-founder of, an innovative web portal for gourmet food products. These ventures allowed Joanne to assemble the skills of small business survival while creating a true admiration for the entrepreneurial spirit. She was a founder of the former Women in Design professionals group for women designers and currently serves on the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central New York. She has served on community boards and committees such as the Onondaga Historical Association and the Consortium for Children’s Services and Camp Healing Hearts, through Hospice of CNY, a camp for children grieving the loss of loved ones.



ThE WInDOWS TO SUCCESS: An Inside Glance of the WISE Women’s Business Center By: Alexandra Waterbury


hough the center has been established for eight years, it has seen dramatic growth within the last year. Location has proved its worth. Walk by The Tech Garden and you cannot help but notice the ‘WISE Women’s Business Center’ lettering proudly displayed on the front windows. Seeing those letters draws new people in from the street on a weekly basis. I am always excited to greet them, explaining that we assist women in starting and growing their own businesses, and help them to create a plan of action for their next steps at WISE. Before becoming a member of the WISE Women’s Business Center team, I attended the 2012 WISE Symposium and became familiar with the center while studying at Syracuse University. Learning more about WISE at the energizing symposium (where I met Barbara Corcoran—such an inspiration!!) I was completely hooked on the WISE mission. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I have really found my niche at WISE. There are many reasons that women walk through our doors or pick up the phone to call us. Some recognize the benefits of being their own boss; others are looking for a change in their lives; many have decided to finally pursue their passion after years of working in corporate America; and others are looking to grow their existing business.

The center and its team creates an environment that attracts individuals in all stages of life and in business. Being a self-starter, I truly enjoy meeting each person that comes through our door and am excited for them to begin their journey through entrepreneurship. As these women progress through business counseling, training, and mentorships, the transformation I see within them is inspiring. They make me even more committed to assisting them as they reach for their goals and dreams. If you are currently a client of our WISE Women’s Business Center, we are proud of you! And if you have yet to visit us, give us a call or stop in anytime. We look forward to meeting you!

About the Author: Alexandra Waterbury is the administrative specialist at the WISE Women’s Business Center. She graduated from Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management in 2011 with a dual Bachelor of Science degree in entrepreneurship and marketing. Waterbury continued her education at the Whitman School, earning a Master of Science degree in entrepreneurship in 2012.



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My CoSPEr, vice president/editorin-chief at Entrepreneur Media Inc., knows what it means to drive a business idea forward with passion, creativity, savvy, and yes, even a little moxie. having been in the entrepreneurial trenches with her media consulting business, Cosper has an indepth understanding of what entrepreneurs want and need. She knows that without the right information, tools and resources, small businesses stay small. for Cosper, the media addiction started with a fervor for technology and love at first dial-up. But it was at WiesnerMedia that she delved into the essence of what it means to be an entrepreneur. as the company’s entrepreneur in residence, Cosper solicited and evaluated new business plans, ventures and partnerships for a slew of media properties targeting the insurance and financial markets. Transform innovative ideas into fullfledged realities by raising capital from the VC community? no problem for this business development pro. Cosper’s journalism roots began in the tech world, where she cut her teeth as a reporter on assignment

“It’s all about what you do with what you’ve got.” -Amy Cosper

Daily Dose of

InspIratIon By: Tim Smith

Can you imagine being the first of your entire country to accomplish something? While there were many incredible stories happening all over the cities of Vancouver and Whistler during the 2010 Olympics, one event instantly created a lifetime memory for me. I was watching the drama of the woman’s 30K/18 mile cross country race unfold. The racers enter their final mile, arms and legs swinging, hands and feet drenched {6} WISE MAGAZINE - ANNUAL 2014

in Israel, norway, brazil, Luxembourg, Paris and London covering broadband, broadcasting and satellites. Eventually she became publisher/ editor-in-chief for Satellite broadband magazine at WiesnerMedia, and later she redesigned and directed five ASBPE award-winning financial magazines. New media versus traditional media? to Cosper, when it comes to content, it doesn’t matter. She’s a media evangelizer covering topics at conferences all over the world—from free economics, web 2.0 and social media optimization, broadcasting, the Internet, VC strategies, media, online profiling and user behaviors, and content strategies. at Entrepreneur Media, Cosper’s breadth of experience and tech savvy infuses cutting-edge ideas into the company with a 34-year legacy for serving the small business market. Her mission? keep entrepreneurs alert to the network of tools fundamental to launching and growing their businesses—whether they’re people, technologies, funding sources, or best practices. for her, “It’s all about what you do with what you’ve got.” according to Cosper, that’s a whole lot more than most people fathom.

E L B I S S O IMP with sweat, bodies beyond exhaustion, legs and lungs burning like a four-alarm fire. A field of more than 50 competitors is now narrowed down to a final pair, Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland and Marit Bjoregen of Norway. Kowalczyk has been leading for much of the race but Bjoregen had been slowly advancing. Here’s the twist that added some serious seasoning to what was brewing: Bjoregen had already taken down three gold medals and was one of the best, if not the best, in the world of cross country women. Kowalczyk, a relative

unknown, was racing for more than just herself; she was racing for a country. Spanning over 84 years, and 1700 different events, Poland had never captured the top podium for a woman’s event in the Olympics. EVER. Nearly an hour and a half later, 18 miles have been traversed, 31,680 yards have been skied, and 95,040 feet have been stepped. And can it be that in the last stretch, these two women draw even and are neck-and-neck. At the finish line, Kowalczyk prevailed. Perhaps she wanted it just that much

more. The margin of victory after 30 kilometers and 1 1/2 hours… 0.3 seconds! Sometimes, there is nothing that can stop a will, a burning desire, or a colossal heart. Congrats to Bjoergen for pushing another competitor so far past her comfort zone, surely well beyond what she ever could have imagined. Congrats to Poland, and Justyna Kowalczyk, on creating a memory that will last a long, long time. And congrats to all athletes competing at the world’s finest games.

About the Author: Deborah J. Cabral, CPO® is a productivity and efficiency coach and is President and Owner of Cabral Enterprises, LLC, a New York State (WBE), Nationally (WBENC) and Federally (WOSB) Certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise, established in 2010. Deb’s more than 20 years of corporate training and efficiency experience, combined with her natural fervor for organization and time management, equip her with a keen sense for helping people change their lives for the better!

DeClutter Your Work Life:

6 Simple ideaS to implement noW! By: Deborah J. Cabral, CPO, Certified Professional Organizer, Productivity & Efficiency Coach

Start small, but start now!

Disorganization and ineffective time management skills can affect productivity, efficiency, and the bottom line. Implementing some simple, yet effective, changes can set you on a path to a less stressful and more productive work life. Interested?

Having routines that are second nature and easy to follow are the key to increasing efficiency at work. Start today and simplify your work life!

Tackle each of these ideas one at a time and track your progress. Keep in mind, the greater the commitment to incorporating these activities into your work life, the bigger the results.


DeClutter Your Desk and Workspace

Physical clutter breeds mental clutter and can cause difficulty with focus. Clearing your workspace of all unnecessary distractions makes way for creativity and efficiency.


Set Goals, Write Them Down, & Assign Target Dates Create goals that are “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely). Studies show that goals are 80% more likely to be achieved if they are in writing. Looking at those goals and taking action everyday increases the chance of success to 90%. Goals should have target dates to assist with motivation and accountability.


Use One Calendar for Personal and Professional Commitments Using more than one calendar can lead to scheduling conflicts and wasted time. There is no right or wrong way to maintain your schedule. Choose a calendar that works best for you; digital or paper. The most important component is consistency.

a Daily 4 Use To-Do List Using a daily To-Do list helps meet goals, save and control time, conserve energy, and reduce stress. A To-Do list can effectively keep track of the tasks you need to complete, help prioritize activities, and minimize mental clutter.


Organize Your Workday

Create a daily plan that reflects your priorities to help increase efficiency and productivity. Plan a major portion of each day, but build in time for interruptions. Attack the most important projects or tasks when your energy level is high.

Effective 6 Practice Time Management To learn to manage time better, the key is to make small, positive changes over time. These small changes can yield big results when practiced consistently. Start by tracking how you are currently spending your time. To manage time more effectively, try handling high priority tasks first, setting a time limit to each task, focusing on one task at a time, and batching similar tasks together.




Savvy SpeakerS Tell all!


THINGS you doN’T kNow abouT THe 2014 wISe SpeakerS

Judy Wicks

Melinda Emerson

Amy Cosper

I almost threw in the towel when… I never considered that as an option until I retired at 62 to pursue other interests.

I almost threw in the towel when… Everything in my life got hard all at one time. I had a brand new baby, a bad marriage, and a business that was tanking.

I almost threw in the towel when… I have never thrown in the towel.

Good Morning, Beautiful Business

I’m so glad I stuck it out because… I enjoyed my career and left a legacy that is helping others in the movement to build a new economy that is more green, fair, and fun. My entrepreneurial/business icon is… Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s. Something unique you don’t know about me is… I lived in an Eskimo village for a year when I was 22, which changed my life by showing me a sustainable way to live. The 5 things I can’t live without are… My dogs, the woods, my family, my friends, and good food. 10 years from now, I hope to be… Alive at 76 years old, healthy and happy.



I’m so glad I stuck it out because… When I didn’t have any more answers, I started praying and God gave me a vision in a dream three times to become America’s #1 Small Business Expert. My entrepreneurial/business icon is… Oprah Winfrey. She was the first journalist I ever saw who started a business. She gave me the courage to think I could do it too. Something unique you don’t know about me is… I am a formally trained vocalist. The 5 things I can’t live without are… Pandora, sour cream donuts, cute shoes, the beach, and the TV show Scandal. 10 years from now, I hope to be… Still helping small business owners live their dreams.

Entrepreneur Magazine

I’m so glad I stuck it out because… I wouldn’t have it any other way-everything you go through leads to the next thing. Progress is progress. My entrepreneurial/business icon is… My mother. Period. Something unique you don’t know about me is… I live and work on a working, producing ranch, ride horses every day, feed them at 5am and ride a Ducati when it’s not snowing. The 5 things I can’t live without are… My husband, my daughters, my mother, my father and the life I am blessed to be living. 10 years from now, I hope to be… Healthy enough to keep doing what I’m doing and I really need to ride a motorcycle through Africa. It’s on my bucket list.

Gayle Carson

Renata Mutis Black

Karen Hough

I almost threw in the towel when… I’m not sure I ever did. There are crises every day in business and I met most of them head on. Some of the time I had to hire attorneys to help me out, but mostly I stuck it out.

I almost threw in the towel when… Sometimes when starting a small business you have “when it rains it pours” moments. At one point we were struggling to hit our numbers, our investor was reconsidering funding us, a prestigious potential investor told us we needed to change the name of the company, and I was also going through a divorce. It was a very tough time and I must admit that I glanced at throwing the towel in but my passion for changing the field of my industry was stronger. It was ultimately my team that carried me through.

I almost threw in the towel when… My business was out of cash. I’d used up my credit line, emergency fund, and credit cards to keep payroll up to date. The next week, four contracts came in!

Spunky Old Broad

I’m so glad I stuck it out because… I have had the most incredible life and opportunities. How many people can go to 50 countries and 49 states— all paid for! My entrepreneurial/business icon is… Be the best you can be. Don’t try to copy anyone. Something unique you don’t know about me is… As a teenager, I was a dancer with a partner. One time, I asked the band to move their drums because I was doing flips. They didn’t, and I flipped right into the base drum and broke it!

Empowered By You

I’m so glad I stuck it out because… We have truly great product with a very forward way of branding. We are now starting to get the traction that we have been anticipating and the brand has a promising future. My entrepreneurial/business icon is… Sara Blakely.

The 5 things I can’t live without are… My pets, family, working out, traveling and TV.

Something unique you don’t know about me is… On my time off I like to make art-driven costumes.

10 years from now, I hope to be… Still alive and thriving by speaking, writing, mentoring and consulting.

The 5 things I can’t live without are… Empowered By You Panties, the gym, my apartment, iPod shuffle, peanut butter, and leggings. 10 years from now, I hope that… Empowered By You will be a global brand collaborating with the top.


I’m so glad I stuck it out because… My ensemble is comprised of the most amazing people on the planet. Some of them took pay cuts to keep the business solid, and they never let up. They leaned in, kept providing great service, and did what we do at ImprovEdge—got creative and improvised! We now have new clients that came specifically from that difficult time of innovation due to necessity. My entrepreneurial/business icon is… Just about every woman business owner I meet. They all have a story to tell, a struggle they overcame, and a bit of advice that is so valuable to me. Something unique you don’t know about me is… I used to be a competition-level slalom water-skier. I adore waterskiing, but I do not have many chances to indulge myself. The 5 things I can’t live without are… My family (including the dog) and dear friends, exciting work with creative people, sunshine on beaches, a fabulous travel purse, and strong coffee. 10 years from now, I hope to be… Doing something I haven’t even thought of yet. I never saw ImprovEdge coming, and would love to have something just as surprising pop up again!



May your business bloom as your garden grows!

Is Your BusIness

Blooming? by: Marion hancock fish

With record breaking sub-zero temperatures this winter, you may be daydreaming about the blossoms that will sprout this spring. Perhaps you sense your business is also on the verge of a growth spurt. Learning some of the basics of business expansion can help you plan more effectively. The following are some ideas to seed your business growth.


About the Author: Jennifer Creighton is a Communications Director for F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse and serves on the WISE Women’s Business Center’s Advisory Board. Previously, she has been a writer and editor for a local business magazine that focused on entrepreneurship and startups.


Apps ThAT Will BoosT Your producTiviTY by: Jennifer Creighton

“There’s an app for that.” Starting out as a bit of a joke, this phrase has become utterly true. There’s an app for almost anything you could think of. From ghost hunting to cat games to baby crying translators; apps have become part of our everyday routines. While some apps are dangerously addictive and, before you know it you’ve spent the last hour on Candy Crush, other apps actually can help boost your productivity. Here’s a list of my top picks to help any entrepreneur boost their productivity:





Wherever you are and on whatever device you’re using, Dropbox allows you to access your files. Whether you want edit a document while you wait at the doctor’s office or you need to add those finishing touches to a presentation while finishing your breakfast, Dropbox makes it possible. You can even share files, large and small, with your team. Your work is protected and easily accessible. It’s a must for any business owner.

This is a great app if you need to focus on the task at hand. The app uses specially formulated music to boost productivity by way of increased focus. If you notice a track (regardless if you love it or hate it), you are supposed to skip that track. Focus@will will remember what tracks are distracting to you and won’t play them again. It might be the placebo effect, but I swear, my productivity has increased since downloading this app.

This app helps you remember everything. Store anything and access it anywhere. Evernote syncs all of your notes, ideas, plans, photos, research, and web pages on all your devices. Then share all those notes, ideas, plans, photos, research and web pages with others, so you can share your knowledge and gain from theirs. The business version allows you to do all this on a scale big enough for the whole company.

This free app gives you the power of Microsoft Office, Excel and PowerPoint. Create, review and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations on all your devices, including your tablet and smart phone. Share files with your employees, where every edit, action and message is logged. Access files already stored in Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and Microsoft SkyDrive.





Expense reports stink. This free app makes them stink a lot less. The app imports any bank and credit card statements, identifies and automatically categorizes each billable item. You don’t have to manually enter a thing. It also allows you to scan receipts (or import them from Evernote) then matches the receipt to the expense, once again eliminating any manual entry. Expensify makes expense reports easy, convenient and maybe even a little bit fun.

If you find yourself spending too much of your time invoicing, consider this app. Invoice2go allows you to create and send invoices from your phone, tablet or computer, syncing the files automatically. Choose from several templates, customizing them to your needs. Track which invoices are paid or unpaid with instant reports showing unpaid balances. You can send payment reminders right from your phone. It even calculates your state sales tax. Another time-consuming task made easy.

Is your business heavily webbased? Get up-to-the-minute stats on your websites with Clicky. Monitor, analyze and react to web traffic IN REAL TIME. See every visitor and every action users take on your web site, with the option to attach custom data to visitors, such as usernames or email addresses. The data is presented in seriously useful formats, like heat maps, charts, and graphs.

This app allows you to plan anything, collaborate with anyone, and access it anywhere. Wunderlist is the ultimate “to-do” list app. Keep track of all your goals, from day-to-day tasks to long-term plans. Break larger goals into smaller achievable goals. Set re-occurring tasks, due dates, and reminders and print your to-do list for those who want a hardcopy. This app works off the Cloud, so your lists will automatically sync with each device.


About the Author: Me’Shae Brooks-Rolling is a Certified Educator in Personal Finances (CEFP®) as designated by, affiliated with The Institute for Financial Literacy®. She is also the President of Just The Basics Financial Literacy and the author of “How To Save Money & Organize Your Finances”. For JTB’s Financial Serenity Retreats in the Poconos and Catskills, contact Me’Shae at (315) 908-BOOK (2665) or JustTheBasicsFinancialLiteracy.

ed. r I p s Be In arn. Le re. sha

Financial literacy Month is for Women Entrepreneurs, Too


by: Me’Shae brooks-rolling


n March 2004, the United States Senate passed a resolution officially recognizing April as Financial Literacy Month. Many of the country’s non-profit and private financial education organizations promote this occasion by hosting contests, events, and by generally increasing awareness about personal financial money management.

According to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in January 2014, women—who comprise approximately half of the U.s. workforce— make 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. This further bolsters the importance of womenowned business entrepreneurship: so we can set our own terms of compensation.

As a Financial Educator who teaches the fundamental principles of financial literacy to diverse audiences, including entrepreneurs, I have found that adult learners often find it challenging to connect the dots between their personal financial acumen and their business finances. Worse, I have seen many fail to create a wall that prevents the highly inadvisable co-mingling between their personal and business financial affairs. You may be among those who do not realize that as you apply for a business bank loan or business credit card, the financial institution is going to conduct a credit check under your Social Security Number to determine your personal credit-worthiness and their potential risk—apart from your EIN (Employer Identification Number). Why is it challenging for most of us to correlate the simple concept of increasing income and decreasing our expenses in personal finances with the concept of increasing revenues and decreasing expenditures to generate a profit on the business side of the fence? I could go on to surmise various reasons, for example, that it takes money to make money. While this may be true, the bottom line is simply that we’re in business. Even if your organization is a non-profit 501(c)3, you still need to be in the black at the end of each fiscal cycle. Perhaps you’ve been in business for a number of years and still are not yet solvent.

Gaining solid financial footing starts with the basics of personal financial money management. Being financially organized—both electronically and offline through means such as creating a filing system; devising a budget; monitoring cash flow; and calculating net worth—are indicators of sound money management. After teaching in this arena for a number of years, confessions from my adult learners predominantly include being too busy, not wanting to know, and not knowing how.

As for #1 being too busy—none of us can afford to not make and take the time to become financially organized. If there’s any mystery to human behavior it’s that most of us manage to prioritize the activities that we really want to do, and find the money for the things that we really want to buy.

As for #2 not wanting to know— consumers may not even want to open their mail because of fear of the contents therein. We have to prod ourselves to find out why is it that we don’t want to really know what our financial landscape is and get to the root of it so we can make improvements.

My guess is that most people’s eyes would pop out of their heads if they took the time to create their budget, monitor their cash flow, and calculate their net worth. Doing so would beg the question,

“Why isn’t more of the money flowing through my bank account being accumulated towards savings and the capitalization of my business enterprise?” If you are a busy entrepreneur and you no longer want to wander in the land of “not knowing” or “not knowing how,” then I invite you to take the time to invest in your household finances and business enterprise. After all, you’re not just a female business owner. You’re shifting the paradigm from consumer to producer. Moreover, you’re a passionate entrepreneur with a product or service that fills a void in the marketplace, thereby strengthening the Syracuse and Central New York economy with the mere presence of your business enterprise. Happy Financial Literacy Month as we make our annual pilgrimage to the WISE Symposium!

As for #3 not knowing how—this is where financial education comes in; to teach learners the tools they need to know to be wise stewards with their money and finances.



t n e v n i e R


7 StepS to

Your Small BuSineSS by: Melinda f. Emerson


recently came across three women business owners who told me that they’d been in business 10+ years and that they were stuck. They were fearful of what was going to happen next in their businesses and weren’t sure what to do. After listening to them a while, I realized that many business women have these same issues. In order to get your business on the right track, you must get back to the basics. Clients want to hire people who specialize in solving their problems. Competing on price in the computer age is a losing proposition for small business owners, since competition is now world-wide. If what you always did is no longer working, it’s time to regroup and reinvent yourself and your business. Start by updating your business plan or, if that is too overwhelming, just update your marketing plan. Here are seven steps to reinvent your small business:

About the Author Melinda F. Emerson, known as SmallBizLady, is America’s #1 small business expert. As CEO of Quintessence Group, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development, and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failures. She writes a regular column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her the #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog at Melinda is the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. Her latest eBook is How To Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online.


1 Evaluate the core products or services that your business provides.

Make a list of the best products or services that you sell; determine three reasons for why you still sell each of them. If you can’t come up with three reasons, that’s a big clue. Now write down what the features and benefits are of each service. Remember “the benefits” is how you add value to what you do.

2 Determine the two most profitable things you sell in your business. It is fine to have a big list of things that you do, but at this point you need to focus your resources on your most profitable business activities. You need to become clear about where you make the most money in your business.

3 Examine the competition. Look at their

website and social media profiles, sign up for their mailing list, swing by their retail locations. You need to study what they are doing right, so that you can get ideas and compete more effectively.

5 Redefine your secret sauce. Anyone can


LOOk AT yOuR ExiSTiNg cuSTOmER bASE. When

is the last time you spoke with your customers? Develop a new detailed customer profile. When you are finished you should be able to see the face of your customer. Develop a Target 25 list or a Target 65 list (for service businesses). This is a list of customers who should hear from you monthly. You can call, send an email, write a personal note, or invite them as your guest to an event. Never contact these special clients the same way two months in a row.

make pizza, but it’s the sauce that keeps bringing you back. If what once made your business special is no longer working, it’s time to develop a new recipe. Figure out what you could do that makes you stand out in the crowd. Be sure to take into consideration how social media could help you stand out. Perhaps you could start a video series, a podcast, or feature a client of the week on your Facebook fan page.


DEvELOP A mETHOD TO ATTRAcT NEw cuSTOmERS. Update your website, create a special report, run a social media contest, celebrate an anniversary with a free giveaway, or create a blog to demonstrate your expertise.

7 Develop 30-day sales goals. You must

first figure out how much money you need to make each month. Then develop a weekly sales plan. Do something every day to tell the world you are open for business. Even if you just make one sales call a day, write one blog post, or send out one helpful tweet, you need to get in the habit of doing regular sales activities every day.

If you follow this system, you will stop feeling like your business is running you. Take back control. Focus on a new target customer, find your best product/service line, determine your niche, and start making those sales calls. Your business will turn around in no time.




Typical Jessica: Endless optimism. Taking a look at the Pyramids and saying “Hmmm, that actually looks very doable.” Past Itineraries: Rock climbing in Thailand, scuba diving in Egypt, cooking school in Italy, safari in Africa. Favorite Spot on Earth: Home. Finds Beautiful: Brains, wit, her daughters’ happy shrieks as they play in ocean waves, and their dreamy daddy, Chad. Passionate About: Being a great wife and mom. Never giving up. Creating the Stella & Dot Foundation. Guilty Pleasure: Margaritas and friends on a beach in Mexico. Words with Friends. Personal Motto: “Be daring, be different, be impractical; be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the Ordinary.” Cecil Beaton



s the brains behind Stella & Dot, Jessica has proven just how one woman can go about styling her life with smarts, courage, and tenacity. After joining two successful tech startups out of college, she went to the

Stanford Graduate School of Business, where, at the ripe age of 24, she co-founded the world’s leading wedding site, Jessica’s been recognized for her business savvy even more than her style savvy – Oprah, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Forbes have saluted her for her vision. Taking Social Selling to the next level, Jessica’s been honored by Ernst & Young and Inc. 500 as a Top Entrepreneur. She is also actively involved in Young Presidents Organization (YPO) in the San Francisco Bay area. But Jessica is most proud of the recognition

About Stella & Dot: Stella & Dot is a boutique-style jewelry and accessories company reinventing the homebased business opportunity for the modern woman through its social shopping business platform. Stella & Dot offers its on-trend, celebrity-coveted product line exclusively through a growing network of trained independent consultants (Stylists) across North America, UK, France and Germany. They earn sales commissions by selling at private in-home trunk shows and online with a best-in-class e-commerce site including social media tie-ins. For more, visit

she gets from the women of Stella & Dot, who are mirroring her success in reinventing the home business opportunity for the modern woman. Because, as Jessica claims, “nine-to-five just doesn’t flatter.”

Since January 2012, Verizon Wireless has offered hope and inspiration for women seeking alternatives to lives affected by domestic violence. Out of the seeming darkness, of their challenged lives, Project Phoenix was born. A collaboration of Vera House, The South Side Innovation Center and the WISE Women’s Business Center offered hours of counseling, education, and unique networking to support a group of women who wrote business plans, attended conferences, such as the WISE Symposium, and dreamed of amazing goals. Recently, these women submitted their business plans and as a result, Verizon Wireless awarded them more than $60,000 in seed money to begin their new ventures.

“Project Phoenix has made a profound impact not only in my personal life, but has affected my professional life as well. Having been unemployed for a length of time, I became a “Project Phoenix” participant in 2012 and the road to recovery for old wounds that I thought were dead and buried began…Even though my business does not currently show economic impact, the value added through Project Phoenix is priceless. Project Phoenix has changed my life and given me something to pay forward.” ~ a Project Phoenix grant recipient

Thank you To Verizon Wireless for making The impossible, realiTy



Win the Battle and the Wardrobe Style Strategies:

About the Author Ann Marie is an award-winning entrepreneur, a writer, and speaker with more than two decades of business experience that includes the creation of four successful business ventures. Her primary business is AMS Model and Talent, the largest talent agency in Upstate New York. Her most recent venture is “Your Better Style” an image consulting business where she helps individuals and businesses improve their image and their brand.

By: Ann Marie Stonecypher Owner, AMS Models & Talent, Your Better Style

Ground zero is knowing what looks good on you. This will save you time in the dressing rooms and help you clear out your closet. Make sure you are wearing clothes that are age and body appropriate that FIT. Jettison anything taking up valuable space in your closet that is damaged, stretched, faded, and doesn’t flatter you. The mirror is your friend and don’t forget to check your flank.

For those who love fashion, being stylish is fun and easy. however, if you’re the type of person who dreads a trip to the mall, then you may need fashion boot camp. creating a great wardrobe isn’t difficult, but there are a few rules of engagement so you don’t find yourself lost in a fashion foxhole.



The ultimate goal is creating a working wardrobe verses just buying stuff to wear. A working wardrobe has dynamic parts. Pieces like a great black skirt and pants, classic tops that fit (and don’t pull in the bust), interesting blazers that compliment your shape, a classic, solid color sheath dress (for work, dates, weddings, funerals) are just a few staples. My staples include a collection of basic turtlenecks, shirts and pants that are solid colors (a.k.a. my “Fashion Black Ops Wear”—or FBOW). This is the perfect canvas for bold jewelry, vests, sweaters, belts, blazers,

scarves, hand bags, boots and shoes. Have fun accessorizing your FBOW by including animal and tribal prints, houndstooth, and interesting textures. A canvas of head-to-toe cream, brown or navy works too. Just make sure you have well-kept, quality footwear to match.


Strategy 1:

A polished look is all about details Tailoring is worth the price. If you find a great dress but the sleeves are a bit too long, it is worth a few dollars to make it perfect. Wearing it unaltered will torpedo everything good about the outfit and people will notice. The same goes for hemlines. Wearing clothes that don’t fit is a serious tactical style error.

Strategy 2:

Size matters... except where it doesn’t It matters that you wear the right size, but that size shouldn’t matter a bit. There are so many different numbers hanging in my closet I could play the lotto with them. No one can see that tag on the inside of your shirt, but ill-fitting clothes will escape no one. I once went shopping with a friend and she refused to buy pants in her size because she couldn’t get past the number on the tag. Nothing I said could get her to change her mind. Mission aborted.

Strategy 4:


Strategy 3:

up your style quotient by three My new Rule-of-Three: Take your outfit up a notch by wearing up to three interesting items, no more. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. They can be an article of clothing like a fabulous skirt in a print or leather combined with a necklace and a chunky bracelet; or a scarf and a chain link belt; or statement earrings and a stack of bangles. These are just guidelines, but you get the idea. Be fearless! Here are a few fun things to add to your wardrobe: a chain belt (great over pants, a sweater or blouse), statement earrings, animal print belt, leather skirt, a long dramatic sweater, scarves, cuffs, faux fur anything, or large costume rings.

It’s okay to cheat

My favorite style cheat is at your fingertips—try perusing clothing catalogs and web sites like Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Michael Kors, etc. You can get great visuals on what is current and how to put outfits together. You may even have “look-a-likes” in your closet and can recreate looks without spending a dime.

Now you’re ready… Everyone has a covert Style-nista in them waiting to get out. So if fear is sabotaging you, try a couple of new things and see how the changes make YOU feel. If the feedback is good, advance with caution thrown to the wind. If you are already a Fearless Fashion Warrior, maybe you picked up a few new tricks for your arsenal. With your new style strategies in place you should be able to maneuver the fashion front effortlessly with no risk of ending up in the fashion brig.



About the Author: Mary “Kiki” White is a Case Manager/ Facilitator at the Women’s Opportunity Center in Syracuse. She has been with the center for 17 years.

d r a w or F t I Pay rs e h t O g n i iv G y B e c n a h C d n co e S A by: Mary “kiki” White


etermined to be a successful provider for her family, “Stephanie” has been a participant with the Syracuse Women’s Opportunity Center (WOC) on and off for over a year. The first time she enrolled in the Business Office Administrative Training (BOAT) Program, her family issues were so great that she could not even attend the first day of classes. She waited almost six months before she had everything organized enough to attend. She started the BOAT class with a determination not to miss even one day of classes, a goal that she was able to accomplish. She loved the computer skills classes and workshops, but was terrified to participate in the Mock Interview session. The staff at WOC worked with her for over a week to calm her down, and helped her gain enough confidence to even come to the session.




(purses, scarves, belts, jewelry)

Slacks Women’s suits (skirt or pants) {22} WISE MAGAZINE - ANNUAL 2014

Bring y dona our cloth WISE tions to ing the Sy on A mposium pril 8 th!

2014 UAL ANN


Stephanie arrived late that day due to child care issues, but she was able to complete three of the four practice interviews. She was asked at the end of the Mock Interviews to formally submit her resume and online application to a large local employer, which she did before the end of the day. On the last day of class, she received a call from the employer to come in for an interview.

Proud designers of the 2014 WISE Magazine



ORk Li STarT Sm FE aLL, BUT STarT NO w!

You can help pay it forward by donating items from April 1st through 15th to CPS Headquarters, located at 904 7th North Street, Liverpool, NY 13088.

Melinda Emerson SmallBizLa dy, CEO of Quintessen Multim ce edia

The 14 spea20 ke savvy

rs Te LEarN aB ll all! prESENT OUT THEir paS T, aNd fUT UrE pLa NS!


4 Tips your To improv ward robe!e

paY iT


SmallBi zLady Sh ares

7 Steps

to Rein vent Yo ur

Small Bu siness


While she was at her Training Experience, Stephanie completed three formal interviews with the employer and was hired. She is now a Customer Support Representative for a large banking organization in East Syracuse and loving her new job, the structure it has given to her family and the example of success that she is showing her children. One important element to Stephanie’s success was the clothing that she received through the WOC. When she was getting ready for the Mock Interviews, she realized the outfit she had used for interviews was not appropriate. Through the generous donations from individuals and organizations in Central New York, the WOC has developed an extensive clothing closet dedicated to providing interview-level clothing. Stephanie was able to be look and feel her best for her interviews.

r prOdUC OST TiviTY!

Be yourself, everyone else is taken. – Oscar Wilde

Celebrating 10 years of building smart, intuitive designs for brilliant brands.

Appropriate clothes (conservative in design and color—black, dark blue and grey are preferred) include:

• Women’s suits (skirt or pants) • Blouses • Blazers • Slacks • Accessories (purses, scarves, belts, jewelry)

The WOC wishes to thank all who have contributed last year to our clothing closet and look forward to this year’s third annual 2nd Chance Clothing Drive. 315.313.ISCA (4722)

Isca Design Studio is a woman-owned, graphic design firm focused on creating brand identities that connect emotionally with customers and make a great first impression. For the past 10 years, we’ve produced high quality, visual communications that get real results. Whether designing a website, developing a series of ads, or creating a brand new identity for your company, our mission is to help you feel confident in yourself and your brand, so you can concentrate on what you do best.


from The 2013 WISE Symposium!

1. ann Marie Stonecypher, angela renna 2. fun photo booth 3. arriving at the WISE Symposium 4. Event emcee farah Jadran 5. Me’Shae brooks-rolling, Michelle howe 6. robin taney 7. nell Merlino 8. Joanne Lenweaver greets WISE women 9. Camille Malkiewicz 10. afternoon keynote robin Chase 11. Morning keynote Pamela Slim 12. WISE Latinas session






6 8 5

11 9 12 10


About the Author:

The library has so much to offer small businesses. The challenge is understanding how it all works, and that is where you need a librarian… the demographic, industry and marketing information is extensive. Last year, one of my clients was looking to open a new location, and through the library, I was able to give them a detailed analysis to help them make the decision with hard numbers and projections. All of that for the cost of my time and free assistance from a librarian.

–Brent Sears, Entrepreneur, Tully, NY

Peg Elliott is Information Services Librarian at the onondaga County Public Library in Syracuse, ny. She is also responsible for managing the library’s online databases. Peg received her Masters in Library Science from Syracuse University. Peg can be reached at 315-435-1900 and at


e’ve all heard stories about layoffs, downsizing and offices closing. Most of us know someone affected by this, whether it be a friend, relative or yourself. Some individuals may want to consider the opportunity of entrepreneurship following a change like that. Let’s take Diane, for example. She was an employee with her company more than 20 years when she was laid off. She decided to take a step back and think about what path to take next. She had always thought about going into business for herself and decided the timing was right to follow her entrepreneurial dream. Diane’s first step on her new journey… her local public library. There, she received a list of local agencies offering

small business startup services. The referral was just what she needed to get set up with a business advisor to help her through the business planning process. When Diane needed to do market research for her business plan, she once again turned to her library for help. The reference librarian showed her how to use the library’s online subscription databases such as Reference USA, Business Decision, and Newsbank America’s News to find critical demographic information, statistics, industry trends, conduct competitive analysis, and develop lists of potential customers. As Diane’s business began to get off the ground, she realized she needed to become more proficient with new computer software and learn about social media options to help

market her business and grow her customer base. Because she had limited funds and definitely limited time for classroom instruction, the online computer courses she found through her library’s Learning Express database fit the bill. Diane also checked out both print and ebooks on Quickbooks and social media for small businesses. Your local librarians know your community and can quickly refer you to resources that provide business assistance and training. As trained “information detectives” they can direct you to the online business databases and websites that best meet your specific information needs so your search time is more efficient and productive.

Libraries Can Help Small Businesses Thrive by: Peg Elliott

Discover all that your local public library can do for you and your business. It just might be the competitive edge you’ve been looking for.




yoU! By: Kaushal B. Nanavati, MD

ti anava ’s N l a en ush Dr. Ka pstate Wom e ill b he U with t Network w WISE Health t the 2014 lars 4 Pil ing a speak um on the the osi l 8 at Symp ss on Apri rro llne of We cholas J. Pi i N ter. Oncen


About the Author: kaushal b. nanavati Md, faafP, abIhM, is an assistant Professor with the department of family Medicine, director of Integrative Medicine at Upstate Cancer Center, and a physician with the Upstate Women’s health network

You’re defeated mentally and emotionally simply by the fear of something that may not even be! We tell athletes, “you can’t win the game sitting on the sidelines!” That same principle applies to life. You can’t achieve much by just thinking about it, you have to make a plan and then carry it out. If things aren’t going the way you anticipated, then reevaluate and make the necessary changes so you can achieve your goals.

look in the mirror! do you recognize that person? do you know them? do you like what you see? are you seeing the best reflection of you?

If you answered yes to all of the above then I’m happy for you! This means you’re content with who you are as a person and with your life. If you were not able to answer yes then take some time to think about it. Why not? And just as importantly, how can you get there? It all starts with understanding reality and accepting responsibility for your own life. Many people are depressed because of things that have happened in their past and tend to blame the past for their current situation. It’s very hard to move forward when looking back.

Getting fixated on the shoulda, coulda, woulda prevents us from living in the now and building a better future! Others worry about an anticipated future that hasn’t occurred yet. While worrying about something that may or may not happen, they lose out on the current moment! No one can predict the future so worrying about the ‘what ifs’ can paralyze a person into inaction. You become so concerned with the worst possible scenarios that you give up before you can even get started.

It all starts with being selfish enough! Self-care, self-love, and self-respect are good selfishness! Most of us are not selfish enough so we are unable to be our best self! Remember that peace begins within. Once you are at peace with yourself then you can have peace in couplehood, with your children, parents, extended family and friends, and everyone else. If others are affecting your inner peace then rethink your priorities and focus on yourself. Peace comes with forgiveness and acceptance. We have to forgive the past so that we may live in the present. Look in the mirror again and smile at the person you see… let ‘em know that you love ‘em.



“Take risks while you can —follow your heart to pursue your dreams.” – Lilibeth Northern Entrepreneur-in-progress

“Imagine with your entire mind, believe with all your soul, and unlock your dreams of true happiness – success is your key.”

“Give yourself fully to the adventure of today.” – Linda Erb (via Sarah Young)

– Bernadette Rella Ma Ma Rella’s Fine Foods LLC

SHe’S So

“Things happen for a reason… even if you don’t know it in that moment.” – Kate Gillen

Sampling Syracuse Food Tours


Over the last year these wise women have shared their words of wisdom. in case you have missed an issue of Syracuse Woman magazine here are some of our favorites!

“Surround yourself with talented people who believe in you.” - Linda Gilmore Balanced Life Hypnosis

“God doesn’t give anybody everything, but everybody has a little something.”

“If you’re embarrassed about failing, you’re never going to try.”

“Seek counsel on things that are not your expertise.”

– Charlese McClain

– Donna Curtin

– Lura Lunkenheimer

Charlie Bear’s Care for Special Occasions

Grace Auto Body

Peaceful Schools

Each month, WISE: Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship is proud to highlight a woman entrepreneur who is truly living her dream. Clients selected from the WISE Women’s business Center are in all difference phases of their business, from idea to startup to a growth—and beyond! thanks to our partner Syracuse Woman Magazine, we’re able to showcase one entrepreneur each month and tell her story to inspire you.


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veterans ::wise


Supporting women who served our country


April 2014 ::

by lauren boudreau

The Program V-WISE has up to four conferences a year in various locations around the country. This year (June 13 to15) is the first time it will be coming to New York City. The program accepts up to 200 women. The application process is fairly simple with the only main qualifying factor — an honorable military discharge.

The third phase is to keep moving. After the conference, veterans are encouraged to keep in touch with contacts and constantly network. As a V-WISE grad, the support is always there. Registration for the NYC June program ends in May.

Why Veterans As a military veteran herself, Meghan understood the need for V-WISE and it has been fulfilling. In the military she was an engineer officer and was honorably discharged in 2005. Meghan worked in a variety of management positions ever since. Being from Syracuse, she knew that if she were to come back, it would have to be for something she truly loved. Thankfully, she found that fit within V-WISE. In the military, Meghan says, you always have a lot of different jobs. Combine that with constant travel and resettlement, and military veterans have the perfect skill-set for the ever-changing world of entrepreneurship. However, it is commonly known that the transition from war to civilian life can be difficult. That’s why V-WISE is so important.

The program includes three “phases.” The first phase is a 15-day online experience dedicated to giving the women basic business language and tools needed to thrive. “It’s very important we open their eyes to what’s in their backyard, those community level resources that are available to them and help understand concepts such as opportunity recognition and the importance of having a solid business plan,” says Meghan Florkowski, program coordinator.

“When they’re in there together it feels like a sisterhood,” Meghan says. Because they haven’t been in a community of female vet entrepreneurs, she says, sometimes it takes a little bit of coaching to open their eyes to that deep skill set they have. In the military they are flexible leaders, good at building a team, and prioritizing and as an entrepreneur, they are, too.

While V-WISE mostly caters to start-ups, (some are even still in the idea phase), they also have growth track opportunities for those women who might have established a business but still need more guidance.

What kind of a business does a military vet have? Well, according to testimonials, just about everything you can think of. One of the most successful V-WISE graduates is Kristina Guerrero who started TurboPup, which is a company that creates and distributes meal bars for dogs. A former Air Force pilot, Kristina started the business from her home. However, after competing in the Business Plan competition hosted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Kristina won $25,000 to put toward her business and was able to move it out of her home. Other V-WISE graduates were also able to win cash prizes for their businesses. The total prize money won equaled to $130,000.

Phase two is the on-site portion. Prior to arriving on-site, the women will have selected all of their classes and also they are pre-registered. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the women finally get the chance to meet face-to-face with coordinators, contacts, and one another. The first official event kicks off at 5 p.m., which is a reception/networking event. This is where the women are really encouraged to get to know one another and network. Meghan says this is always her favorite part of the program because seeing them interact and feeling the energy in the room is so empowering and uplifting. “You feel like they already known each other for a bit in part because they know where each other has come from because they’ve shared similar experience and now it’s the next experience,” she says. The next day is a mix of classes, key note speakers, and optional breaks. Classes range from finance and economics to business planning, marketing, and law. Part of what makes this program so great is that V-WISE wants to make sure each speaker and professor is there for the right reasons, so they do not pay anyone to teach at this program. Because


A newer program that you may not be familiar with is V-WISE. Since 2010, V-WISE has been dedicated to helping women veteran entrepreneurs. With limited resources already for civilian women business owners, female veterans struggle even more to make that transition back into the working world and find resources tailored to their needs. V-WISE is that resource and that support system. Without it, hundreds of female veterans may not have made their dreams become reality.

of the partnership with the Small Business Administration, all lodging and food is covered while they are participating in the program.


Most women in business are familiar with the widely known WISE Women’s Business Center and the WISE Symposium. It’s a program and organization that dates back more than 10 years and it’s been helping countless women achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

Success Stories

Many different kinds of businesses are always being started at V-WISE. Other successes include: real estate companies, consulting agencies, non-profits, construction companies, and recycling companies. Whatever a student’s dream is, V-Wise will help her achieve it. Currently, 59 percent of V-WISE grads reported that they did start a business or that V-WISE has impacted the growth of their company in some way. For some, though, they may decide it’s not the right opportunity for them and that’s OK. As Meghan says, “Knowledge is power.” For more information on this program, visit :: april 2014




Juggling career & family…


Can a commuter marriage work BY SUSAN DUTCH In a perfect world, you meet your perfect someone by fishing in the sea of potential matches who live geographically close — or at least within a 30-mile radius, give or take a few towns. (There’s even an app for that). But in reality, it doesn’t always work out so swimmingly.

If you met your true love in college, you may have experienced temporary long distance relationship pangs for a couple months during the summer and holiday breaks. However, once committed to being together long term after graduation, you most likely began your journey by finding jobs in the same city. Yet, if you happened to fall in love with someone you met while traveling or even online you may not have had the luxury or even the option to live together in the same town. And let us not forget those who have fallen in love with someone who is in the military. Then there are those who are happily married. They’re living the dream with both spouses working in careers they love, with a couple of kids, a great house in an awesome neighborhood and tons of friends. Then BOOM — the company one of them works for downsizes, and after an exhaustive search for local jobs, it produces no offers. Combine that with the desire not turn the kids’ world upside down with a relocation just yet, the couple decides to join the 3.5 million couples in the U.S. who are currently in commuter marriages due to dual careers and/or family commitments. (FYI…that figure is up by 30 percent from 1990 according to the U.S. Census Bureau). As someone who lived the life of a “corporate gypsy” for nearly 25 years, I can speak from experience that a commuter marriage might have been easier. Juggling schedules, homework, car pools, mealtimes, bath time and discipline alone — while your spouse lives and works in another city isn’t for the fainthearted. The one left behind to man the fort (or “wo-man” the fort in my case) envisions the commuting spouse enjoying quiet time, going to the gym every day, and meeting with clients for dinner and drinks. Yet on the flip side, the commuting spouse may feel isolated from the family, missing out on all the little things that mean so much in the grand scheme of their children’s growth and development and just plain misses being home amongst the chaos. Suffice it to say, it can be a point of contention. It would seem that with all the technology that we now have available, like Skype, Face Time, texting, emails, etc., it would be much more feasible to stay connected when commuting and no doubt it is. Yet, nothing replaces the physical touch and the daily support of a partner. Sure there are nights when it’s nice to have the entire bed to yourself and not have to make a meal beyond chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. But is it worth the lonely nights, those days that you just need a hug at the end of a stressful day? The truth is, everyone has to do what it takes to survive, particularly in a bad economy. Should you find yourself faced with a decision to join the ranks of commuting couples, first think long and hard about it. If it’s only a temporary situation, such as to allow the kids to finish out the school year or to give you time to finish up a project at work or land a job in the new city, that’s one thing. To go into the situation not knowing how long it will last is another. No matter what, it is vital to your children and your marriage that you respect each other for the sacrifices that each of you will be making and to show your love and gratitude every single day in every way possible. Susan Dutch, a.k.a. MizMatch writes and blogs about love and marriage from a “girlfriend-togirlfriend” perspective. Chime in at mizmatch. com, follow her on Twitter at @mizmatchblog or email her at


April 2014 ::

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Transforming Fear into Freedom in Business BY ALYSSA LAFARO I PHOTO BY CINDY BELL “Fear is failure,” Susan Beebe told me. “I never wanted to own my own business,” she continued. “I certainly didn’t want to run an ad agency out of my home. People kept telling me I should do it — and I felt like I was being pushed. I had four kids and was going through my second divorce. How was I going to run an ad agency?” This happened during the end of the summer in 2001. Then, 9/11 happened.

“Instead of going to bed at night crying for myself, I was crying for all the souls lost,” Susan said. “I realized that I was lucky to be breathing and living in America, that there are so many opportunities here just staring me in the face.” She started her ad agency, Lighthouse Marketing, out of her home that month. She joined WBOC (Women Business Opportunities Connections). And she has been extremely successful ever since. Today, Susan not only runs Lighthouse Marketing, but Tap Into Your Center — Increasing Sales, Revenues and Profits, where she provides sales and marketing training, business consulting and coaching to clients. She began this second business in 2013 with the hope to put her 30 years of experience to good use. “I want to work with clients virtually and help them expand their limited beliefs about sales and marketing.” Her experience comes from 15 years in the real estate world. She applied for her real estate license when she was 19 with the goal to, “buy some real estate at a young age and then go get a real job.” Instead, she joined a local agency, got comfortable, and was offered a management position by the time she was 25. She was responsible for motivating and leading 30 independent contractors. “I was exposed to the best sales training,” she said. “To this day, a lot of the business development and sales education I give to my clients I attribute to my experience in real estate. I loved being a part of a team, taking the lead, and seeing others succeed.” And that’s exactly what Susan’s role has become at WBOC — she’s a mentor. Because she became successful so quickly with Lighthouse Marketing, her WBOC visits were more about offering business advice to those in need of it. “As I got more experience and more successful,” she told me, “WBOC meetings, for me, were more about giving back. I couldn’t tell you how many women I met with who wanted a structure similar to Lighthouse Marketing for their own business, and were in need of some advice.” Susan’s success as a mentor and businesswoman was recognized in 2010, when she received the Ann Michel Award at the WISE Symposium. “That was definitely the pinnacle moment of my career,” she admitted. Today, the event represents rejuvenation for Susan. Although she’s loved her experiences presenting and advising fellow entrepreneurs there, she’d rather blend in with the crowd to “recharge, become re-inspired, and celebrate being a female business owner in Syracuse.” When I asked Susan about her plans for the future, she said she hopes to continue her relationships with her entrepreneurial sisters, and offered this food for thought: “You can have it all. You can be a successful business owner and a good mom and a good wife and also take care of yourself. I’ve always believed that as long as I take care of myself I can do anything.” After the 9/11 attacks, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said this at a memorial service: “The attacks of September 11 were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. […] We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.” Susan Beebe couldn’t be freer.


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“Determination, I have it and I can’t get rid of it. Sometime I wish I could, but I want people to remember me…whenever the time comes.” — Gwendolyn Hubbard


Before you continue reading this feature, I want readers to fully understand and realize that there really is no such thing as “impossible.” In fact, the word, “impossible,” is not in Gwen’s vocabulary. While many people feel the need to “see it before we believe it” — it became clear to me that Gwen does not think this way and never has.


This past fall, a woman shocked hundreds of spectators at a local breast cancer walk simply by crossing the finish line. People were cheering for runners and watching a speedy 15k winner come through, but nothing compared to Gwen’s finish. How did she do this? Gwen was born with cerebral palsy, and over the past few years her mobility and ability to walk without pain has been minimal. However, she has never been a woman to quit and she also has never been a selfish person. Gwen has spent much of her life doing for others. When Gwen found out that her friend, Christola Walker, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to enter A Run For Their life, which benefits the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. She not only wanted to participate in the event, but she vowed to walk and cross the line for her friend. “She worked very hard,” said Denise Murray, a friend and a habilitation specialist at CNY DSO, where Gwen works. “She worked with her physical therapists for weeks to do this.” Gwen’s physical therapist, Vicki O’Connor, and Karen Walters, her occupational therapist, said it would be “tough,” but Gwen didn’t care. She was set on “finishing the fight” for her friend. “I didn’t know that people were watching,” Gwen said. “I didn’t pay attention to that. I was focused on the finish line.”Gwen used her motorized chair up until the final stretch in front of the Carmelo K. Anthony Center. While she was proud of this pledge she kept for her friend who is battling cancer, she did admit that she stopped her chair a little sooner than planned. “I walked even farther than I had practiced.” Nevertheless, she walked every step.

. . . d r a b b u h n e gw ing h t o N

y a w r n he





This moment was not the first time Gwen took matters into her own hands. She has always been going against the grain, and this started because of another great woman — Gwen’s mother. “My mom was a really important lady in my life that I love,” said Gwen, she paused to remember her late mother. “A day doesn’t go by that I don’t remember her. I am everything that I am because of her…wish she could be here.” Gwen’s mother made sure that she was not placed in special education courses because she knew her daughter was able to do the work. Admittedly, Gwen said she was like any kid that didn’t want to do their homework. However, her mother had different plans. “She knew I was headstrong and that I could prove I could do anything,” Gwen said. Gwen graduated with her diploma from Corcoran High School in 1977 and also completed courses at Onondaga Community College. By this time, Gwen started her journey of advocating for people with disabilities. “After college, I did a lot of research and I joined Arise CNY.” There she developed more skills and she was sent on many public speaking assignments, Gwen said. “I got more loud and learned etiquette.” Her most memorable moments came in the late ‘80s when she and a small group of friends rallied to establish more public transportation rights for those with disabilities. She has won many awards and even received one award from former First Lady Barbara Bush. Currently, Gwen is concerned about the funding for people with disabilities in New York state. Although she has done her fair share of protesting, she’s ready to fight again to increase the opportunities for people with disabilities to live independently. “I have a medical condition but now I am feeling I really need to get back out there,” Gwen said. “I still got a lot of work to do.”


April 2014 ::

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In today’s hectic and demanding lifestyle, it’s hard to fit in any “me time.” Women today balance a full-time career often while raising a family, and even keeping up with a social life. But where does fitness come into play? With such a challenging day-to-day schedule, there are still dedicated women out there willing to take a few minutes to add exercise to their daily routine. “You don’t have time for fitness, you make time” explained Diane Weismore, a physical education teacher at Henninger High School, tennis coach, and mother of two. Laurene Johnson, PhD, senior research associate at Hezel Associates in Syracuse, wakes up at 5 a.m. every day and begins her daily exercise. “I am proud that I am fit and healthy and it changes how I interact with the world every day,” Laurene said. “When the alarm goes off, I just get up and do it. If I let it be optional it wouldn’t happen. If something keeps me from doing it, I actually get pretty mad. How dare the weather keep me from my run?” A single mother of two and director of marketing and development at Arc of Onondaga, Lauren Kochian, gets her children ready for school every day, fits in a workout and then is off to work for seven to eight hours daily. She admits that her biggest struggle is outside interference between meetings and kids, “Finding one time of the day that is always kid-and work-free is the key for me…it’s part of my day like anything else. If it’s important to you, I think you find a way.” If motivating yourself just isn’t working, there always seems to be a new workout trend every other week. Most of them take into consideration the busy lifestyle people endure. Sean T’s 25, P90X, and Insanity are all daily workouts that are intense, but not too time consuming. Shakeology and BeachBody’s 21 Day Fix both help people diet and learn portion control to learn a healthy lifestyle. If these trendy fitness ideas don’t jump out at you, you can always add a few of these tips to your daily routine without having to get yourself to the gym: 1) Take the stairs instead of the elevator 2) Squat when you use the restroom instead of sitting on the seat 3) Instead of sending an email in the office, walk to the person’s desk to talk to them 4) Stretch while sitting at your desk 5) If you don’t smoke, take a “smoke break” and walk around Adding a little fitness into anyone’s busy life can be done. Take some advice from these real Central New York women: “I would tell someone to examine their schedule and find gaps — when I’m busy I will run for 15 minutes instead of 45. Plan in advance. And make it important to your lifestyle. Get a babysitter. Reward your efforts. Blast music. Find an activity you enjoy. Stick with it — really even when you’re busy and tired and bored with it. Like anything, it gets easier and is filled with ups and downs. And remind yourself someone busier than you is doing it!” — Lauren Kochian “I think the key is to make a decision that you’re going to do it, figure out when and where it fits in your life, then the decision is made and when that day and time come, you just go. If I actually thought each morning about whether or not I felt like exercising that day, I’d go back to bed more often than not. I often have the best workouts on the days I didn’t feel like going” — Laurene Johnson If these women can make time in their hectic and chaotic days to add fitness, there are no excuses for the rest of us!

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Sophia’s Steps A child’s journey with autism

BY EMMA GROSSMAN The word “autism” tends to come off as a scary, intimidating, and unfamiliar word to many people. For Kris Tamilia, these types of feelings were overwhelming when her daughter, Sofia, was diagnosed with autism when she was 2 1/2 years old. The National Library of Medicine defines autism as a developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. The difficulty with understanding autism is that every child is different. Kris explained her daughter’s case: “I would say you know that at an early age things are different. For Sofia, she stopped talking, so you realize something is wrong.” After Sofia’s diagnosis, Kris and her family attempted to help Sofia understand things in different ways. “You have to find what their niche is and how they accept things. You need to learn to make things make sense for them.” Any parent could be devastated to find that their child was diagnosed with autism. At one point in time, Kris thought Sofia would never go to kindergarten and she thought she would never read a book. Now 11 years old, Sofia is doing math problems and reading books. Kris believes that such progress was made due to early intervention. Not only did Kris, her husband Mario, their other daughter Gabrielle, and other family members help tremendously with Sofia—there were also special education teachers and therapists that helped. “When they are so little and they are doing therapy, you think ‘she’s never going to get there.’” The Tamilia family has gotten “there” with great support from the Central New York Autism Society of America (CNY ASA). This year the society will be putting on its annual “One Piece at a Time” Autism Awareness Walk on Sunday, April 27, at Long Branch Park in Liverpool. The main goal is to raise awareness about autism and that is exactly what they have done since they first started. The Tamilia family first began the walk as a group of four and has now developed into a group of more than 120 people! The spreading of awareness has made great progress since Sofia’s diagnosis. People now know what the “puzzle piece” symbol of autism stands for the complexity and mystery of the autism spectrum means. Inclusive classrooms in school have helped kids with autism learn and interact with other children their age. Before the diagnosis of their daughter, Kris and Mario did not know any other parents of children with autism. “You feel like nobody could possibly understand what we go through and we felt secluded” said Kris. But going to ASA meetings, they met parents who understood what they were going through. Kris said ,“It was such a relief,” to have others who could talk and laugh with you. One of Sofia’s favorite things to do is to camp. With nine other families during the summer, the Tamilias pitch a tent and go camping. Sofia gets really excited when the camping trip is coming closer and packs all of her clothes and a refrigerator. She loves it so much. Although the future of Sofia is unknown, Kris wishes Sofia will make great friends one day and finds and holds a job that she actually likes and will make her happy. “As her father I worry about things like, will she get bullied in school? Will she ever have friends to play with? What will her life be like as an adult?” asked Mario. “But you only have to spend a little bit of time with her to know she’ll be OK. She’s a great kid to be around. She’s always smiling and happy—unless Syracuse University loses a basketball game, then she’s not very happy. “


For more information on the CNY ASA “one piece at a time” Autism Awareness Walk please visit: April 2014 ::

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Community Welcomed

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Every now and then you hear the term, “MS,” on the news or you hear about someone who has it. But do you really know what it is? Ashley Greenman, the senior manager of community engagement of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, talked with us about what MS is and how the community can get involved. Learning more about diseases that affect our own neighbors helps us better our knowledge as a community. What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)? Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. It is thought to be an immune-mediated disorder, in which the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue in the CNS. MS can cause many symptoms, including blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, and blindness and more. These problems may come and go or persist and worsen over time. How many people does MS effect? More than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide. Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not require U.S. physicians to report new cases, and because symptoms can be completely invisible, the prevalence of MS in the U.S. can only be estimated. The Society continues to advocate for the establishment of a national registry that will track the number of people living with MS and has made a commitment to re-evaluate the current prevalence estimate and investigate the process by which an updated estimate can be identified. What is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society? The National MS Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about MS now — to move together toward a world free of multiple sclerosis. MS stops people from moving. We exist to make sure it doesn’t. We help each person address the challenges of living with MS through our 50-state network of chapters. The society helps people affected by MS by 72funding April cutting-edge 2014 :: research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating

professional education, and providing programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward. What other kinds of events does the National Multiple Sclerosis Society put on? Walk MS is our largest event. The Upstate New York Chapter will host Walk MS in 19 locations on May 4 this year. As the major rallying point of the cause, Walk MS connects people living with MS and those who care about them. When you participate in this community event, the funds you raise give hope to everyone impacted by MS. What lies ahead for the organization? MS research is gaining momentum. We are at a pivotal moment in time where significant progress is being made and breakthrough solutions can change the world for everyone with MS. When the Society was first founded, research into multiple sclerosis was almost non-existent. The disease took years to diagnose, and there were no therapies proven to slow the course of MS. Now, after decades of research into MS, there are 13 disease modifying therapies for treating and managing MS. The Society has invested more than $820 million into research and has fueled many advances. We have made progress but more must be done for those living with forms of progressive MS for which are no current treatments. The hope — and potential — for new, more effective treatments for MS has never been greater. What can the CNY community do to help? The first thing to do is to learn more about the disease and the symptoms. Gaining a better understand of what someone with MS may be facing will go a long way in supporting someone with MS. Then, it’s best to act! If you know someone with MS, get involved — whether as a volunteer or by joining one of our chapter events or becoming an MS activist. There are so many ways to get involved and our website can help you find the right fit. Walk MS is on May 4 in Syracuse and Mohawk Valley and 17 other locations across Upstate NY… so join a team or start your own today at For more information on MS and to register a team for the May 4 MS Walk — visit

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Inspire syracuse women

JEANNE ST. CLAIRE & ELIZA DECKER Co-Founders, Modern Vintage

BY LAUREN BOUDREAU I PHOTO BY CINDY BELL It’s one thing to start your own business when you seem to have run out of options, but it’s another to start it when you already have a fulltime career, as Eliza Decker knows all too well. Together with Jeanne St. Claire, she created Modern Vintage, the home decorating and refurbishment store in October of 2013. For Jeanne and Eliza, passion for what they do is key and they couldn’t have succeeded without each other. While Eliza has a full-time position at Syracuse University as an associate director for facilities at Recreation Services, Jeanne is a full-time stay-at-home mom. Add several small children into the mix for both ladies and you have two pretty busy schedules. However, it’s their love for design that keeps them going. “As soon as the kids go to bed, Jeanne knows I’m down in the basement painting and waxing furniture,” Eliza says. During the day, Jeanne handles all client relations and public relations for the company. “We have a perfect balance,” she says. “If one of us is struggling time-wise, we help each other out.” But having a business partner, especially one that’s also a friend, can sometimes be detrimental. Jeanne says that she and Eliza promised they would always be honest and open with each other. “We looked at each other and said we’re going to say how we feel and be OK with what each other’s opinions are, because if we don’t do that we know this won’t work out. Otherwise you’re never going to be successful with another woman in business,” Jeanne says. Their success didn’t come gradually. Jeanne and Eliza both say they never could have anticipated it to take off so fast. Receiving 700 Facebook likes in three weeks, the two women had their hands full. More official things, like creating their website and establishing a logo, had to be put on the back burner. “It’s been an amazing whirlwind since day one,” Jeanne says. For Eliza, the fascination with home design and refurbishment all started when she and her husband bought a house. “When you buy a new house, you’re like, ‘Oh gosh, what am I going to do?’” Most people become overwhelmed with projects like renovation, but Eliza started to have fun. She realized when she hired her own interior decorator that it was she who enjoyed making the decisions. Both women have plenty of big ideas for where they want to take this company. Even though they started out doing mostly refurbishment of their own furniture pieces, they realized working with people to fulfill their design desires is much more rewarding. “We know that there’s Pinterest and all these apps out there that can help you with interior decorating but it really doesn’t narrow down to your own personal space,” Jeanne says. Jeanne also says they like being able to go to a client’s house and offer them affordable interior design options because interior design is usually a luxury. It’s not something many people can afford. “We’re unique in that way where we’re not an interior decorator where they outsource furniture for a home,” Jeanne says. They can actually take (continued on page 78)


“It’s just so rewarding because it empowers women.”



Deputy Director, Small Business Administration in Syracuse BY LAUREN BOUDREAU I PHOTO BY rick needle

When Cathy Pokines started at the Small Business Administration in Syracuse there was no center or program to help women in business in this area. The whole helping women in business initiative that took place nation-wide, Cathy says, “came out of a White House conference on women entrepreneurs held back almost 20 years ago.” The conference determined that women entrepreneurs were not served as well as men. They did not have access to the same resources to help them start their businesses like, counseling, financing, and training. Thus, women business centers were born. “Right now, women owned business are starting at almost twice the rate as their male-owned counterparts,” Cathy says, “so there’s been some success.” But it was Syracuse University that approached the SBA to help fund a women’s business center in Syracuse. This led to the creation of the WISE Women’s Business Center, and around the same time the WISE Symposium was also developed. Cathy actually worked with SU in the planning and organizing of the first WISE Symposium about 10 years ago. As a part of the University’s expansion of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, V-WISE was born; an organization committed to women Veterans by providing them the tools to become successful entrepreneurs. “This is something that the SBA supports all across the country,” Cathy says. V-Wise is offered at many different locations. Cathy first became interested in the Small Business Administration when she was still working with Oswego County Tourism where she would help small businesses in tourism. However, the SBA caught her eye because it was still helping people with small businesses, but all different kinds. “When I learned what the mission of SBA was, to help small businesses succeed and grow, it was a natural fit for me.” That was also the first time the SBA was interested in helping small business in a hands-on way, and for 16 years, Cathy has never looked back. But why are so many women turning to owning small businesses? Cathy says it offers women flexibility, especially for those with families and children. “It gives them the opportunity to be their own boss instead of working for someone else,” she says, and quite frankly, it’s the American dream. “There’s an awful lot of satisfaction that can be gained from that,” she says. But as far as women wanting expand their business into larger corporations, Cathy says that women tend to want to be comfortable and when they reach that perfect stage in their business growth, they’ll stay there. Even so, in 2013 woman-owned businesses account for generating more than $1.3 trillion and employing nearly 8.6 million people, according to a study by Women Able, a for-profit social enterprise that works to enable women’s entrepreneurship worldwide. The importance of helping women in business is still great, though. Cathy admits that most women “have it in their mind that they’d like to try it but don’t have the confidence to make that leap” into entrepreneurship. That’s why Cathy says her job is so exciting. “By providing them the resources


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“Every single person that I work with is a mentor.”




Venturing out into the scary world of entrepreneurship can certainly be frightening as a businesswoman, but Carol Fletcher (of C.R. Fletcher Associates Inc.) took that risk and decided to take the challenge of opening her own firm after 10 years experience elsewhere. Founded in 1989, C.R. Fletcher Associates Inc. is a full service placement firm specializing in the search and recruitment of superior talent for their customers. They focus on direct hire, temporary, temp-to-hire, and payroll. According to Carol, the goal of the company is to “partner with our clients and work with them to recruit the ‘best of the best.’ To continue to value our candidates’ career aspirations and help them climb the ladder of success. Our company values are professionalism, integrity and passion — taking a professional approach while maintaining a strong customer focus.” Before Carol ventured out into the business-world, she graduated with a Bachelors of Science in business from Le Moyne College. Although she knew she wanted a career in business she was not always clear on exactly what she wanted to do. Carol explained, “After my dad passed away at a very young age, my mother was given an opportunity at Community General Hospital in the field of human resources. So in retrospect I guess you can say it was fate.” Not only a businesswoman, Carol and her entire office staff are very involved within the community. She personally has sat on many boards that include Centerstate CEO, Le Moyne College Board of Trustees, Community General Hospital Foundation, Christian Brothers Academy, Syracuse 20/20, and the Oncenter, just to name a few. In 2007, Carol was presented with the Ann Michel award which according to, is “given to two women who have started Central New York businesses with proven success in entrepreneurship and have been in business for at least three years and have demonstrated economic impact and growth.” Carol said that the award was humbling. “Ann Michel was a legend in this community. She was a force to be reckoned with and respected by all. She called a spade a spade and you respected her for it. When I received the call I was speechless and that is hard for me to be.” Carol’s business ventures, awards, and active membership in the community could not have been done if it were not for a few mentors. “Every single person that I work with is a mentor.” But more specifically, Carol said that her greatest mentor was her mother.” She instilled in me to drive to succeed, passion for what I do and above all, respect for others.” She also gives credit to her husband who has been a guiding light for her and has encouraged her every step of the way. A few business contacts such as Bill McAvoy and Ross Stefano, took a chance on her and never looked back. Being a successful businesswoman has absolutely taken dedication and effort. What would Carol’s advice be for aspiring (continued on page 78) :: april 2014


inspire ::sw




your existing furniture and change it, make it unique, and new, which lowers the cost.

and getting them thinking about it so it becomes something that’s real to them...they realize, ‘Yes, this’ll work for me.’ It’s just so rewarding because it empowers women in so many different ways.”

businesswomen? “Stay the course, never give up, and always remember where you came from. Never, never forget your roots. And keep your sense of humor, you’ll need it.”

It’s hard to make it as an entrepreneur, especially as a woman. Among the top qualities Cathy says a woman must have is persistence. “When a bank says no, we’re not going to fund this loan... that doesn’t mean another bank will say no,” she says. Learning from roadblocks or finding the ability to go around them is a great skill to have. Being able to wear many hats and the willingness to fully commit oneself to one’s goal is something that Cathy sees a lot of.

“I am surrounded at work by a tremendous team of people that inspire me every day,” said Carol, when talking about her business. Although the company has grown since its start in 1989, Carol’s future goals for the company are to continue on our growth plan, expanding outside the Central New York region and into other niche markets.

Jeanne and Eliza are also focused on charities. They see their business and success as “a blessing,” not something they were entitled to. “So, we both want to be able to give back,” Jeanne says. They’re looking to give to an organization that benefits children in some way since kids are a big part of both their lives. Staying local is also important to them because Modern Vintage is local and they’d like to encourage growth and development in the community. “We thought about maybe even starting one, but we would just rather do what we’re good at and either donate furniture or help market an event,” she says. When it comes to business success, both ladies say, “you just have to go for it.” Jeanne says she and Eliza both felt “so far” from the prospect of actually starting a business. “...Like, ‘I can’t do it because I don’t have a website and I don’t have all this money to put toward a business,’ but you really don’t need that,” she says. “You just have to go with it.” Citing that all their other business ideas failed because they didn’t fully commit, they say you have to just take that leap of faith and not be afraid of the outcome. But win or lose, it goes to show that you cannot stop a woman with an idea...or two women, that is.



“One day they’re going to be the strategic planner, the next day, if it’s a restaurant, the cook, they’re the HR person, the accounting person, the one that needs to figure out legal aspects... instead of working in the business they have to work on the business,” she says. While it is a lot of work for women, it’s also a lot of work for anyone. Cathy wants you to know that, “of course, we also serve men.” Their resources are there for everyone. If you feel up to the challenge of starting your own business, you can visit or the WISE Women’s Business Center at

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Her favorite part of the job is meeting new people and every day, understanding their needs and desires, and fulfilling those desires. “When a person seeks our expertise and advice and uses that to achieve their aspirations is the greatest feeling.” When Carol has a moment to get away from her business and community involvement, she enjoys spending time with her husband of 29 years and two children. She finds time for yoga, biking, and taking long walks with her dog Tillman, named after Ranger Pat Tillman, the Green Beret who gave his life for our country. Carol is also blessed with three sisters and a large family of in-laws.



Mary is a licensed mental health counselor, a motivational speaker and a certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor. Her specialty is treating those who suffer from mental health and dependency issues. Mary provides therapy for individuals with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, anger management issues, relationship issues and for those who have been sexually abused. Mary utilizes different modalities of treatment specifically targeting the needs of each individual. Mary also offers group counseling for individuals who have PTSD and substance abuse issues. Mary has worked in ministry at her church as a counselor; she is well versed in scripture, and is able to provide therapy for clients who seek a Christian based approach. Recently, Mary published her memoir, Misery to Ministry, sharing her journey from a life of abuse and self-loathing to a victorious life in Jesus Christ.

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by alison grimes I photo by CNY latina

Smiling and composed, Belkis Espinal, owner of All In One Hair studio on 937 N. Salina St. in Little Italy, celebrates five years of business. Easier said than done, Belkis’ entrepreneurial journey began 15 years prior.


It was decided. Belkis then moved with her two children, son and daughter, to New York City, building her experience at three different salons before deciding to move to Syracuse. Once in Syracuse, it took working at one more salon to convince her to open her own shop in 2008. Remaining employed part-time at a salon, she worked part-time at home to build and strengthen her clientele relationships and enrolled in a class for start-up businesses. Her course instructor was so impressed with the plans Belkis had, he offered to work with her as a business partner, bringing his business expertise and English fluency to the practice. Although Belkis does know some English, (enough to hold a conversation) she is much more comfortable speaking Spanish.


Belkis moved from her home in the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico where she completed beauty school and began her career in cosmetology. It did not take too long, however, for Belkis to determine for herself that New York could offer her and her family greater professional opportunity.

It only took a few months for the business partnership to disintegrate. Belkis said there were conflicting interests and goals that would not allow the partnership to flourish. Her business partner did not understand her core practice values. Belkis had built her loyal clientele by providing a level of service that differed from the values of her business partner. But Belkis was determined and continued to pursue her business plan alone. With the help of family and friends, she filed all necessary documents as sole proprietor and began to search for ways to launch her services from a place other than her home. Belkis and her family found a storefront on North Salina that was the perfect place. Before All In One Hair Studio opened for business, Belkis and her family spent countless hours on their hands and knees transforming what was once a social club or smoke house, into a welcoming place of beauty. Without taking out a business loan, All In One Hair Studio opened its doors in March of 2009. Belkis rented the store, purchased needed equipment, and eventually hired two, part-time assistants. Now having made a name for herself, she focused on obtaining development capital to launch her business further. However, she was turned down by two different banks, both of which stated that her business was too young. Each bank required a strong track record to grant business loans or lines of credit. It was not until she discovered the “Step Up” program from a credit union close to her shop, Cooperative Federal, that she was granted a $2,200 loan to expand her product line and services. The grant vastly increased her bottom line and expanded her services for a promising return on investment.

A Journey to a success


Today, Belkis smiles and proudly reflects on how her salon performs. Proud as she is, she is always looking to raise the bar and offer only the best environment and atmosphere for her clients. Belkis plans to remain one more year at her current location before moving to a greater, new and improved shop in downtown Syracuse, launching All In One Hair Studio one step further. The Latina feature was brought to you by the CNY Latino newspaper, where you can find this article in Spanish, in this month’s edition. CNY Latino is the only Hispanic oriented newspaper in Central New York and the most direct and effective way to reach the Hispanic population locally. For more information, visit or call 415-8593. :: april 2014 79

Syracuse Woman Magazine


SWM’s Events 102ND BIRTHDAY: GIRL SCOUTS “It all started with one great woman (Juliette Gordon Low) who had an even greater vision.” This year the Girls Scouts of America celebrated its 102nd birthday on March 12. The Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways recently hosted numerous cookie booths across the community. The leadership organization for girls teaches business management skills through the cookie program. Did you get your box(es)? 5TH ANNUAL SHAMROCK CELEBRATION Community members gathered for the fifth annual Shamrock Celebration on March 22. The Irish themed, cocktail fundraiser featured food catered by Karen’s Catering. Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Jane Monheit performed while the crowd enjoyed live and silent auctions. The event benefitted the Shamrock Animal Fund. The 501c3 not-for-profit fund helps pay for veterinary care for animals in need that have owners with financial limitations who reside in Syracuse and Central New York. For more information on this organization, visit SYRACUSE HALF MARATHON The second annual running of the Syracuse Half Marathon took place on Sunday, March 23, in downtown Syracuse. Runners toed the line for the 13.1-mile course that stays within the Salt City. The race started and finished at the Oncenter, and runners and spectators enjoyed a post-race expo. Results were compiled by Leone Timing & Results Services Inc. For more details on this year’s event, visit Syracuse Woman Magazine was proud to be on the scene once again!


april 2014 CNY Maple Festival


WHEN: 9 a.m WHAT: Join the WISE women and make your business grow! The one-day symposium includes an extensive variety of seminars and panel discussions offering practical advice covering topics from all aspects of the business world. WHERE: The Oncenter, Syracuse INFO:; Twitter - #wise2014

syracuse fashion week

WHEN: April 9 – 12 WHAT: A semi-annual celebration of style and fashion in Syracuse & surrounding. Proceeds benefit the Food Bank of CNY. WHERE: Events are hosted at four separate venues. Opening night is at the Landmark Theatre! INFO: Tickets and event details are at



WHEN: Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5p.m.; Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. WHAT: Enjoy all spring has to offer and everything maple at the CNY Maple Festival. There will be live bands, horse-drawn wagon rides, games, and sugar shack tours. WHERE: Cortland Street & Route 221, Marathon INFO: Visit for more information; (607) 745-7710

WHEN: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. WHAT: Join us for a Syracuse Woman Magazine Night complete with networking, raffles and prizes, drink specials and great food! WHERE: The Black Olive, 204 W. Fayette St., Syracuse INFO:

Who gives you advice?

::Sw career


wise women


In honor of the annual WISE Symposium (happening on Tuesday, April 8), which celebrates women entrepreneurs and business owners, I wanted to highlight some of the excellent women in business that are career-related coaches and experts, to inspire you in your own career journey. As someone that meets with more than 600 individuals to discuss their job search each year, I know the importance of staying up to date with hiring trends so I read many of their pieces of advice each week. For most of you, recruiting is not your work field so learning about the job search process takes extra effort. However, I assure you it can be fun! The women I have listed here are honest and funny. In no particular order, I give you the women that I look to for groundbreaking ideas, truthful writing, and inspiration. First, there’s Jenny Blake. A current entrepreneur and former Googler, Jenny ventured out onto her own and gives a variety of advice. Jenny’s book, “Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want” (and blog, lifeaftercollege. org) is helpful for anyone who recently graduated from college or going through transitions and change. Recently, she shared a template to get people started with how to approach others for networking advice and tips. This kind of advice can be helpful for anyone looking to make a change. While the book is geared toward those 20-something recent college graduates, Jenny’s comprehensive advice, exercises, and thoughts, are helpful to all of us. Luckily we have some excellent career management professionals right here in Syracuse, too! An entrepreneur for more than 16 years, Anne Messenger and her team contribute to their blog,, often. The blog is very helpful and it’s always loaded with current information for your career and job search needs. Their motto, “we grow people,” shows that not only can they help with your search, but they can also help you grow in your career. I was first introduced to J.T. O’Donnell’s writings through following her on LinkedIn’s “Articles” features. Her career advice is candid and not what you would often hear from others. Her website,, has a wide range of information which is appropriate considering their tagline: “because every job is temporary.” And I was ecstatic when I was able to hear Lindsay Pollak deliver a keynote address at a conference in 2011. Her book, “Getting From College to Career” (two editions are out), is second to none. Again, while this book is focused on those attending college, I think it is valuable for anyone trying to make a career transition or secure a new job opportunity. Every Wednesday night at approximately 9:03 p.m. I receive a lengthy, informative, email filled with tough, unique, job search and career questions complete with answers from Alison Green. Green, who is possibly better known by her website name: “Ask a Manager,” and her tagline, “and if you don’t I’ll tell you anyway.” She answers tricky questions such as: what do I do if my coworker invites me for a sleepover? Her wit, wisdom, and advice, is refreshing to hear and I share quite a bit of her replies after reading through them. Who do you go to for your career advice? Tweet your answer to me and let me know! Tracy Tillapaugh is Assistant Director, Counseling, at Syracuse University’s Career Services. She previously worked as a recruiter for over four years in Central New York. You can connect with Tracy on Twitter by following @tracytilly.


april 2014 ::


May 6 - 8


June 3 - 5

Burdick Audi at Driver's Village The crossroads of Central New York at the intersection of Route 81 and Route 481 5885 East Circle Drive, Cicero NY


April 2014