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Cayce's LifeTime Runner Spring 2021


The F-Suite’s mission is to encourage and be a resource for women in the business community, empowering them to grow and develop their businesses and leadership skills in order to make a positive impact on the greater community.


Table of Contents


Ensuring her best life through LifeTime Insurance

14. SELF-CARE IS NOT SELFISH Human touch is a necessity to our well-being



How your mindset determines your direction




Our city’s international technology industry


This lowly financial document gives an important and accurate picture



What’s behind the murals around the city



What effect is COVID having on us and our employees?


Changing neighborhoods means helping communities


Daily decisions subconsciously determine our level of self-respect


Books are one thing, but running a business requires other things


The vulnerability nobody wants to talk about

Don’t underestimate the value you have accrued


Is confusion or lack of proofreading behind your homonym errors?


Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener

21. TRANQUILITY IS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS The mental health benefits of creating and consuming art



We use this social media platform even though we don’t understand it

facebook.com/TheFSuite | 3

Editor's Letter

Publisher and Managing Editor Anna Gelbman Edmonds Design and Production Kristina Parella Assistant Editor Julie Blevins Betsy Montgomery Contributing Writers April Blake Karen Campbell Krystal Conner Martie Cowsert Streit Caroline Crowder Carolyn Culbertson Henri Baskins Sylvie Golod Earl Gregorich Haley Kellner Bland Lawson Emily Stoll Nancy Tuten Sheila Tutweiler-Dawkins Photographer Sally Scott The F-Suite (Volume 3, No.2) is a free quarterly publication. Copyright ©2021 The F-Suite LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. The publisher is not responsible for the opinions or comments of the authors or the subject matter of advertisers. Advertising rates are available upon request. We welcome your comments and questions by email at info@thefsuite.com or mail to The F-Suite LLC, 317 Bradford Lane, Columbia, SC 29223. Tel. (803) 216-1902


LOOKING AHEAD Each issue of The F-Suite is planned out months in advance, so it’s uncanny how timely so many of the articles turn out to be. This issue, as evidenced by our cover story, is chock full of articles that address the need for physical, emotional and mental self-care. A year of COVID, political and economic upheaval and social unrest across the globe is taking its toll and will likely have long-lasting ramifications. I hope you find these articles helpful. I continue to believe that small businesses are primed to be the big winners in the postCOVID world if they play their cards right. We’ve been publishing articles that specifically offer advice on adjusting to this new world. I also believe the high number of job losses has primed the business community for another entrepreneurial boom. When people can’t find jobs, they find ways to earn income by creating products or services that fill a gap in the market. The F-Suite is proof of that principle. There are several lifestyle and business magazines in the Midlands. But there wasn’t a business magazine focused solely on female entrepreneurs and small business owners. I learned that women own 40% of all U.S. businesses and lead the way in entrepreneurism. I saw a gap in the media market and filled it with this magazine you’re reading. The magazine is growing and we have gaps in our operation that need filled. We’re actively looking for someone to take over sales and marketing of the magazine. We want to grow our stable of freelance writers and photographers. We also want to connect with the businesswomen in our ethnic communities to learn about and help grow their businesses. We’re looking for people who can help us take The F-Suite to the next level, grow beyond Columbia and eventually become a bi-monthly publication. If you or someone you know is interested in helping us achieve some of these goals, please email me. In closing, I want to acknowledge our newest sponsor, The Financial Knot. Owner Stephanie Vokral was on the cover of our winter issue, and you’ll be hearing more from her in future issues. I can’t say enough good things about each of the women who sponsor The F-Suite. Suzanne Brunnemer, Tzima Brown, Nicole Rountree and Stephanie Vokral are amazingly generous, smart, and community-minded women. They’ll be part of the social and educational events we look forward to hosting in the not-too-distant future. We’re so ready to ditch Zoom and gather in person, aren’t you? Happy reading! Anna@TheFSuite.com

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SOCIAL MEDIA WELLNESS FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS Leveraging the platforms by sharing the real deal By Carolyn Culbertson


odern business wisdom tells us that if a business doesn’t exist on social media, it might as well be non-existent. Some businesses use social media as an integral part of their model. Many large firms, ranging from engineering to law, consider it a worthy investment to hire a social media specialist. Social media is a valuable tool for building brand awareness, getting to know customers or clients, driving web traffic, and generating leads. If a business sells products directly to consumers, social media can be its marketplace. If a business wants to reach other businesses, social media is the place to network, especially in the age of social distance. But for small business owners, the cost of staying relevant on social media — a mostly free way to market a business — can be their own well-being. How can small business owners strike a balance between feeling beholden to social media and leveraging it for their own gain? The key lies in tapping into brand authenticity. Be authentic (enough) According to a study done by Stackla, 86% of consumers say that authenticity is important in deciding which brands they like and support. At the same time, more than half of consumers think that less than half of brands create content that feels authentic. This is where small business owners have the advantage. While faceless companies have to work extra hard to literally personify themselves, a small business’ brand can be as authentic as its owner. This doesn’t mean laying bare your soul on the Twitter timeline or trading in a professional branding style for a confessional approach. But for small businesses more than corporations, a brand can show an authentic version, even if just a sliver, of a small business owner’s personality. In that way, they don’t have to reach very far to come up with social media content.

Make followers feel good Social media is famous for making its users feel bad. People go on social media looking for connection and validation, and come back with FOMO (fear of missing out), envy, anxiety, and depression. However, a 2019 study done by researchers at Harvard found that some forms of social media use can be beneficial. People who check social media as part of a regulated routine are more likely to reap the positive social benefits that we all need to survive — positive mental health and social well-being — than people whose social media routines include an emotional component. (Think the 18-year-olds who check Instagram every 7 minutes to alleviate the anxiety that they’re missing out on something.) “These findings suggest that as long as we are mindful users, routine use may not in itself be a problem. Indeed, it could be beneficial,” said Mesfin Awoke Bekalu, one of the study’s co-authors. Business owners can’t control the usage habits of their followers, but if a brand consistently leads with authenticity and, dare I say, empathy on social media, it’s more likely to become a positive and engaging voice in a sea of picture-perfect influencers. Small business owners are uniquely positioned to give their followers more of what they want, which is authenticity, and more of what they need, a true connection on a medium known for its facades. In return, they can earn credibility, loyalty, and trust (all of which lead to sales) from followers — without having to phone it in. facebook.com/TheFSuite | 5

Attitudes & Etiquette

our mental health. The Harvard Business Review found that 42% of workers globally have reported an overall decline in their mental health.

Make sure your team members know where and how to access professional resources for support


A mindful approach to workplace well-being and pandemic-related stress By Henri Baskins s we move into the new year, it’s essential to keep an optimistic outlook about the future of our workplaces and the business community. But “out of sight” doesn’t always mean “out of mind.” 2020 was a learning experience for many of us and highlighted the importance of work-life balance. While the pandemic may have jeopardized our physical health, it simultaneously took a toll on


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On the local level, our leaders in the Midlands business community have been seeing similar trends. Our partners and business leaders are looking for ways to step up to the plate to address the severity of the mental health crisis affecting our workers. Implementing social distancing guidelines and health precautions are a great start, but if your employees are silently struggling with their own mental health challenges, your business simply won’t be able to maximize its efficiency. According to Ginger, an MIT Media Lab startup, 88% of workers reported experiencing moderate to severe stress due to the pandemic, 62% of workers report losing at least one hour a day in productivity and 32% of workers lose more than two hours a day. Reducing the stigma around mental health and speaking candidly about mental health issues is a great way for employers to lead by example. Open communication and “check-ins” with workers allow leadership to gauge morale and adjust accordingly. Proactively offering flexibility through remote work options and allowing employees to accommodate their work hours to their other responsibilities is another valuable strategy employers can utilize. Make sure your team members know where and how to access professional resources for support you may not be able to provide. Building a culture of connection and honest communication surrounding mental health issues will be the key to success in such ongoing uncertainty. We encourage the business community and local leadership to begin making strides to address the crisis head-on. For information on local professional resources, visit the Columbia Chamber’s Partner Directory at partners.columbiachamber.com/list/. Henri Baskins is the executive vice president of the Columbia Chamber. Her passion for business and strategic planning guides her role at the Chamber, where she provides managerial and public policy direction.



“We’re doing more than building homes.” By Mary Louise Resch


hen people see his white pick-up truck rolling through their neighborhood, it’s common to hear them yell, “Mr. Roy!” as they happily wave and smile. That’s because Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity Executive Director, Roy Kramer and his team have helped hundreds of Midlands families find the stability and confidence that living in a safe, clean, affordable home provide. “We’re not giving people homes.” Kramer is quick to point out that people who move in to Habitat homes have been in the program for at least two years. “Habitat homeowners put in hundreds of hours of community service, take home maintenance classes and financial education classes to help

Executive Director Roy Kramer

clean up any credit problems they may have,” Kramer says. Habitat homes are not free. Habitat homeowners pay an affordable mortgage based on their income. “Instead of paying $800 a month for an apartment they do not own, they pay on average about $400 a month on their home, gaining equity and savings for the future,” Kramer says. “I paid off my mortgage,” Alma Wallace said as she raised her arms in the air in a victory pose. Wallace became a Habitat homeowner in the late 1990s and finished her last mortgage payment on her birthday in 2019. “I used to live in an apartment with rats and roaches. I won’t ever forget what Habitat did for me,” Wallace said. “We used to hear gunshots in our apartment complex all of the time,” another homeowner said. She and her two young daughters moved into the Habitat home they helped build in 2020. “All I thought about over the last few years working through the Habitat program is my girls. I want them to have a happy life.” “We’re known for building homes,” Kramer says. Now Central S.C. Habitat for Humanity is also a Neighborhood Revitalization Affiliate. That means the Habitat team is going door to door in neighborhoods where they are building and offering to make needed repairs on other homes too. “Our goal is to literally change neighborhoods one block at a time,” Kramer says. Changing neighborhoods means helping communities, which include veterans and seniors, with everything from building wheelchair ramps to painting front porches to helping people fix a roof. Central S.C. Habitat for Humanity, the volunteers who work on the projects and the partners who help finance them are an example of community in action. “It’s about helping our neighbors,” Kramer says. For more information on Central SC Habitat for Humanity visit habitatcsc.org or email Mary Louise Resch at mlresch@habitatcsc.org. facebook.com/TheFSuite | 7




BALANCING DECISIONS WITH DESIRES All too often our decisions tear down our self-respect By Caroline Crowder


emember that one time you played hooky on a Friday afternoon so you didn’t have to balance your books? Yep, that time. Then remember how you developed a bad habit of mentally (or maybe even physically) checking out of the office by 3:00 on Fridays? We know from psychological research that our daily decisions subconsciously determine our intrinsic level of self-respect and self-belief. Our daily minor decisions compound into major implications in our work routine, which then transfer to our personal lives and vice versa. If we leave the office on Fridays at 3:00 because we associate the dreaded balancing of the books with work on Friday afternoons, we cultivate a negative association with working on Friday afternoons. We also lose 104 hours of productivity over the course of a year that we can never devote to growing our companies. The lost hours are consequence enough. But I want to encourage you to reconsider the effects on your mindset and the lack of discipline exhibited when choosing the less-than-ideal option. On average, we make 35,000 daily decisions. Of these, 40% to 95% are habitual and don’t even register in our minds before we proceed. So how do we go about re-engineering these poor habits? Most decision-making models will outline things like defining the problem, evaluating alternatives and weighing the pros and cons of each decision before reaching a conclusion. I don’t know about you, but I (and I assume you, as well) don’t have time to do that for the 35,000 individual decisions I face daily. So, I adopted a simple question that I ask myself when I feel my mindset torn between pleasure and fun 8 |


and discipline: does this decision draw me closer or push me further from my goals? I’ve also found these two mental pivots resulted in me making better decisions when faced with multiple opportunities: Mindset Shift: Change your viewpoint on decisions. Decisions are opportunities to achieve your personal and professional goals. They can also be opportunities to self-impose a setback in your journey. You must choose which opportunistic mindset you want to have. Ownership of Outcome: When you define and commit to your goals, you must decide that you are capable. In doing so, you assume ownership, which results in individual responsibility to define the plan to achieve your goal. You are now responsible for making the daily decisions that keep you on the path to achieving your goals. This step is vital because, over time, we can build upon our self-belief and start to dream more, achieve more and do more. Inevitably, we are going to make some poor choices along the way. That’s why granting ourselves flexibility in our goal plan is important. When you know you could have made a better decision, have the discipline to correct the next decision and ensure you are realigning yourself on the path to your goals. The roads we travel are about maintaining consistency, not ensuring we are riding on a newly paved road in a Tesla. The best part about all of this is that you do not need permission to make decisions; you’re in control of your decisions! You simply need to cultivate the will to become better and the courage to change. Your confidence will thank you for sticking to the plan. Quoted multiple times in Inc Magazine, Caroline Crowder is a relentless advocate for the state of South Carolina as fertile breeding grounds for entrepreneurship.

COLUMBIA’S LIBRARY OF THINGS Richland Library thinks of everything, and the result is entrepreneur heaven By Emily Stoll


orking for yourself or starting your own business sounds enticing. Nevertheless, taking that dream and making it a reality is a lot of hard work. While you’re striving to establish a business plan and structure the foundation of your company, it would be great to alleviate some of the cost. Yes, there’s a way to start small before making a full capital investment, and it includes utilizing the resources at your local library. After piloting the use of five equipment kits (podcasting; photography; microphone; backdrop; lighting), Richland Library identified a need among local creatives, entrepreneurs and life-long learners in the community: reduce barriers by providing access to quality equipment. Its solution? The Library of Things. There are more than 70 pieces of new and innovative equipment to choose from. So, what’s on hand? Let’s start with constructing a home office. Some of the supplies that you may need include staples, such as: a laminator; label maker; scanner; memory card or web camera. Next, you may be looking to cultivate or design a product. To help with the prototyping phase, try taking advantage of the following gadgets: • Industrial Sewing Machine - Stitch together heavy-duty fabrics (canvas; denim; upholstery) • Dremel Rotary Tool Kit – Carve/shape wood and foam or etch onto materials • Silhouette Cameo: Make paper 3D models or practice vinyl and heat transfer designs Finally, get the word out. Start marketing with multi-media components at your fingertips.

Entrepreneurship There are a number of ways to visualize and capture your product by using professional cameras, lighting, tripods, backdrops and software. Yes, you can access the ever-popular photobox, handheld gimbal stabilizer, and Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. If you aren’t familiar with this equipment or need a crash course on how to use it, don’t worry. Richland Library’s staff can navigate you through the Library of Things and provide assistance based on your business trajectory. For a closer look at the collection, visit richlandlibrary.com/libraryofthings. You can read more about borrowing guidelines, check availability and reserve equipment. Then, once a selection is made, set up an appointment for pick-up through curbside service at Richland Library Main (1431 Assembly Street). The Library of Things is unlocking opportunities for local residents and supporting small businesses during a critical stage of development. And as the collection continues to grow itself, thanks to funding from the Google Impact Challenge and the Libraries Build Business grant, be sure to refresh your browser and look for additions in the near future.

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YES, WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT CYBERSECURITY Cybercriminals set their sights on small businesses for a reason By Earl Gregorich

E 10 |

ye-rolls, shoulder shrugs and suddenly forgotten appointments are typical reactions from small business owners when the term cyberse-


curity comes up during a consultation. Anything to get out of the geek-speak they fear is about to follow. It doesn’t need to be that way, and the topic is much too important to be ignored. So, let’s not talk about techy stuff

or even cybersecurity. Instead, let’s discuss the value you have built in your business and what would happen if it all evaporated with one keystroke. Entrepreneurs work hard. We put in long

property and a customer list. These intangibles include one more thing you should add to your list of valuables: data! The people and businesses you work with, sell to and buy from generate valuable data. What you sell, how you sell it and what your clients have to say about it are all valuable collections of data. The customer information, payment details and credit histories of each client are extremely valuable. Larger companies and government agencies that you interact with and have access to represent valuable network connections both in relationship and technology. Are you protecting the access to all this data? If not, you not only risk losing significant value in your business, but you could also be sued if you are hacked and your lack of protection is classified as negligence. Now that we know the value and the risk, how do we protect this data? Well, your first line of defense is a combination of knowledge and preparation. You see, we humans are the weakest link when it comes to data protection. We need to constantly be on the lookout for the next threat, like phishing, social engineering and ransomware. If we don’t know what these are, we need to do some research and then make plans to protect our data. Then we need to communicate these plans up and down our pipelines. Low-cost options are available to safeguard our valuable data. Backups are key to minimizing the impact of nearly every type of cyber-attack. Backing up your data is relatively inexpensive and can be put on auto-pilot. Keeping your software up to date, using anti-virus programs and virtual private networks (VPNs) are also inexpensive

defenses. If you really want to be pro-active, you could use a self-assessment tool that will highlight areas you need to work on and get suggestions for how to improve. The SC SBDC offices offer this service at no charge. (Call me!) I should also mention that you can get insurance to protect your business from cyber-related incidents. First Party Cyber Liability Coverage can help protect against everyday risks within your business. A policy normally includes coverage for recouping lost data, meeting regulatory reporting requirements, and identity theft. If you work with other people’s data, you can get Third Party Cyber Risk Coverage. This helps in the event it is determined that your software or hardware (or employees) were part of the cause of someone else’s data being hacked. Check with your insurance provider or SBDC consultant on how to find these coverages. Unfortunately, there isn’t a 100% foolproof method to totally prevent a cyber-attack, and hackers like to pick on small business because we normally avoid or cannot afford high security. As small businesses, we just have to make ourselves a very difficult target to hit. So, the next time we talk and I bring up cybersecurity, take good notes and take an interest in protecting the value in the business you have worked so hard to build. You will be glad you did (and I will be shocked)! Earl Gregorich is a Certified Business Advisor and Area Manager of the Small Business Development Center in Greenville, SC. For more information and to contact him visit SCSBDC.com.

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hours, invest our life savings, skip family time and vacations. We do all this so we can build businesses we hope will provide income for ourselves and our employees. Not only that, we hope at some point we will be able to exit our businesses and cash in on all the value we have built over time. If you understand this concept of working to build value, then you should also understand the need to protect that value. So, what are we talking about when we say value? Obvious things come to mind, like computers, vehicles, tools, buildings, inventory and other assets. Then there are the intangibles that we often overlook–things like brand recognition, reputation, intellectual

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How one woman ensured her best life through life insurance By April Blake Photographs by Sally Scott


he path to success is a long one, especially if you’re running 13.1 miles to get there, the way small business owner Aubrey Shaw likes to do. Shaw, who owns and operates LifeTime Insurance Agency in Cayce, South Carolina, describes herself as an independent soul, and that shows on her journey to becoming a small business owner and in her choice of hobbies to combat the ups and downs that come with both life and entrepreneurship. Working in insurance is not at all where Shaw saw herself ending up and, in fact, she actively tried to stay out of it. After college, uncertain of her next steps, she signed on with a temp agency and told them the only 12 |


industry she didn’t want to work in was insurance. “They had to convince me to just go on an interview for a part-time admin assistant job at an insurance company,” Shaw said. “I was so young I didn’t realize insurance was more than just sitting in a cubicle.” After getting promoted from her initial part-time administrative position, Shaw quickly moved up in the company, becoming the sales manager before buying out one of the partners ten years ago. “It was more of a God thing than anything else, but that’s how I ended up here!” she joked. “But seriously, I learned that insurance is a way for me to help people find solutions to problems.” LifeTime Insurance sells personal lines, including life insurance, long-term care,

income protection, group and individual policies, Medicare products, plus dental and travel insurance. As a 20-year-old company, Shaw said it is stable, but she is aware changes are likely to come for the industry as a whole. “There could be changes, but it takes so long for legislation to pass and take effect,” she said, pointing out that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took six years to implement. “As a business owner, there is a lot of pressure and risk, and there are times you have to weigh decisions.” However, after 10 years of working for herself, she can’t even think about doing anything different, much less working for someone else. The ability to set her own schedule and have the business work around

her personal life is one of the biggest benefits of small business ownership. One way Shaw works her business around her life is scheduling her business responsibilities to allow time to meet the needs of her very active lifestyle, which includes traveling to running races and martial arts competitions. She has a first-degree black belt in jiu jitsu and is ranked in judo, too. She has trained in the martial arts for nine and a half years after watching from the sidelines as her ex-husband trained for ten years prior. “I said I’d try it one day,” she said. Coincidentally, she took up martial arts shortly after becoming a partner in her business. “It allows me an outlet to deal with life in general in a healthy way.” In addition to her ongoing jiu jitsu training, Shaw also picked up running more seriously in 2019 after some on-and-offagain attempts at the Couch to 5K program through the years. It took her listening to a

running podcast to really pick it up regularly, and she has since embraced the runner’s lifestyle by hiring the podcast host to be her running coach. She went from a beginner runner to someone who ran a half marathon on New Year’s Eve in Jacksonville, and so ended the year 2020 with an adrenaline rush and 13.1 miles of sunshine on her face. A full race schedule for 2021 is on her mind after many canceled races in 2020. Beyond her exercise goals, Shaw is heavily involved in her community in the City of Cayce — serving in leadership roles in the neighborhood association and the newly formed art guild in the city. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, she made her home in the Midlands and has been here for 20 years, but visits her family on the West Coast frequently. Shaw finds that her exercise and work philosophies heavily influence one another. “I am a fiend for learning,” she said. “You’ll only be able to rise in leadership to your highest level of education, so keep reading and learning — you always have to be seeking to improve yourself ”. Whether it’s learning about leadership, adopting a running mentality or combining both by listening to a leadership podcast while taking a leisurely six-mile run, Shaw said learning has changed how she handles herself and how she sees people interact. “It allows me to serve my clients better, too,” she said. In addition to self-learning, she works with a life coach to figure out what to change to be successful. “It requires time to evaluate and be thoughtful about how things might go,” she said. “I like to write out what went wrong, but also celebrate my expertise and remind myself of the positive, since our brains are hardwired for survival and to look for the bad.” Then, of course, there’s good, old-fashioned trust in yourself. “I’m a firm believer that a woman's intuition is a real thing,” she said. “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. So, there’s that balance between thinking and feeling, and sometimes you have to trust your gut to let you know when things are or aren’t a good thing.” Whether it’s running a business or running for meditative bliss and future strength, there’s no doubt Shaw is putting in the hard work to achieve her dreams, both in and out of the business world. And she will use the strength she finds in one world to become even better in the other. Learn more about Aubrey Shaw and LifeTime Insurance at ltins.com.

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Attitudes & Etiquette

SPA 131: SELF-CARE IS NOT SELFISH It’s critical, pandemic or not By Carolyn Culbertson


arci Delaney hardly had a moment to blink before shutting her spa down in line with COVID-19 safety restrictions. Delaney, owner of Spa 131 on State Street in Cayce, said the shut-down was devastating for her and her team. “I’ve got people that are single moms, people that rely on this for their livelihood to pay their rent, to buy their groceries, to feed their children,” she said. Like many small business owners at the start of the pandemic, Delaney hustled. “We had to get creative,” she said. The spa was shuttered for seven weeks, but during that time Delaney pivoted to virtual services, including Zoom facials for groups and individuals. Virtual facials are still on the menu, and some customers buy the kits alone for a DIY night at home, Delaney says. By the time they opened back up, Delaney and her staff found some of their clients so relieved to be cared for at the spa again that they would come in and just be weeping. “Humans crave human touch and interaction… when you have a massage, it releases a lot of serotonin,” she says. Since it reopened, Spa 131 has had COVID-19 protocols in place to protect its workers and clients, including mandatory temperature checks and masks, weekly COVID-19 tests for employees, and increased sanitation. Although the pandemic has not laid an easy road for Spa 131, 14 |


Delaney sees her business and the industry itself — already worth billions of dollars worldwide — taking on an enormous role in a post-pandemic world. “One day, when people are more confident in going out because of that crave of the human touch, I really do see that this business is going to be more and more and more desired,” Delaney says. Beth McGroarty, vice president of research for the Global Wellness Institute, predicts the same, saying that the post-pandemic market looks “bullish” for the wellness industry. The value Delaney brings, pandemic or not, lies in a term often used but hardly nailed down. Spa 131 is its definition: “This is selfcare, self-maintenance — and it is not selfish,” she says. “As women we are so numb from putting ourselves on the back burner.” The spa has three massage rooms, four aesthetic rooms, one spray tan room, and a tranquility room (currently closed), and most importantly, a team of women that takes care of each other as much as they care for clients. Delaney considers them family, and the spa is her lifeblood. “I love what I do…there’s nothing else I would rather be doing,” she says. “There’s never a day that I’ve woken up and not felt joy about coming here.” Learn more or contact Marci Delaney at spa131.com.

Attitudes & Etiquette


All too often our mindset is our biggest stumbling block. You can change that! By Dr. Krystal Conner


uilding a successful business is easy. A year ago, I would have passed out typing that statement. In fact, believing the exact opposite seemed true to me. These thoughts seemed like facts to me: “Building a successful business is sooo hard.” “Making money is hard, and I really want to help people, so maybe I shouldn't charge as much.” But since then, I've revised any thoughts that don't benefit me as a business owner or as a person. What I’ve come to know and understand is this: Circumstances are neutral. They are neither good nor bad, until the moment you have a thought about them. As soon as you think something about your circumstances (your business, your relationships, your money, YOU), you create a feeling from that thought. Thoughts create our feelings, and feelings drive our actions. Results are what come from the actions we take. Ultimately, your thoughts create your results. This is so important to be aware of in business, and in life in general, because when you can be mindful of what you are thinking, you create better results. If you spend all day thinking “My business is not growing,” or “This is so hard,” or “Nobody is interested in what I have to offer,” you will spend all day feeling discouraged, disappointed, frustrated, angry and rejected. Instead, think about the types of

actions you would take if you were thinking about your small business in this way: “My business is growing.” “This is challenging, but I’m up for the challenge.” “People need the product/service I offer, and I’m going to make sure they know I have a solution for them!” If you think these things, you will feel encouraged, motivat-

ed and determined. Not everyone believes that building a successful business is hard. Some people think it is fun, awesome and challenging in the best way. Thinking this way is a choice. A similar principle applies to your thoughts about money. When you doubt your value, or the value of your goods and services, you tend to make excuses for not charging people according to the value you bring to them. You think you are being of service, but really you are just doubting your own self-worth and ability. You aren't being a business woman of integrity. The most important thing when building a successful business is understanding that you control your thoughts. You can choose to think whatever you want. It’s just as easy to think positive thoughts as it is to think negative ones–it just takes a little practice. Dr. Krystal Conner is a certified life coach who teaches successful women how to stop pretending, enabling them to get everything they want in life without settling for less.

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What the world knows about Cola Town that you may not By Martie Cowsert Streit


olumbia, South Carolina, is a wonderful place to call home. Beautiful parks and rivers, affordable real estate, not overcrowded – many things make Columbia a great place to live and work. What many of the city’s natives and newer residents alike don’t know is that a massive, booming industry was born right here in Cola Town nearly 50 years ago. Policy Management Systems was founded in 1974 as a division of Seibels Bruce to automate insurance processing functions. This began what became the insurance technology industry, or insurtech, which spans the globe and generates billions in revenue. Just last year, Columbia-based Duck Creek Technologies opened on the NYSE with a wildly successful IPO that surpassed all projections. Over the years dozens of insurtech companies have gotten their start in Columbia. As technology and consumer demand continue to evolve, we see more and more innovation among the new businesses as they emerge. According to Insurance Journal, insurtech funding reached a record high of $7.1 billion in 2020, even during the global pandemic. In the past four years alone, much of that investment has reached our city through industry-giant Capgemini’s acquisition of TCube Solutions, as well as multiple startups such as Rainwalk Technology, Avolanta and Yovant, that are showing great promise to continue to solidify Columbia’s position as a major insurtech hub. These companies offer a wealth of opportunities for young professionals, including working with the state’s universities on internship programs. Dedicated to promoting Columbia within the insurance technology sector is its.cola, an association with a mission to cultivate an environment where talent, innovation, collaboration and a shared vision empower this world-class industry. Overseen by the City of Columbia Department of Economic Development (CED), its.cola is an educational, networking collaborative where members share knowledge and information, and explore innovative ways to optimize the extensive talent and experience of Columbia’s insurtech resources.

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CED serves as a catalyst for businesses, developers, investors and partner agencies that are focused on growing the local economy and high-value industries. According to the city’s website, Columbia is home to multiple additional services to attract and support new and growing businesses, including: •

USC/Columbia Technology Incubator helps to recruit, develop, and launch local technology driven companies. • Innovista is a USC led economic development effort that connects university-spawned innovations with entrepreneurs, businesses, and stakeholders. • Center for Entrepreneurial and Technological Innovation is a partnership between the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator and Innovista to support entrepreneurial business development. • SCLaunch facilitates applied research, product development, and commercialization programs. • Benedict College Business Development Center helps address the business development needs of small and minority owned businesses. • IT-oLogy is a non-profit collaboration between businesses, academic institutions, and organizations to grow the IT talent pipeline and advance the IT profession. • USC Darla Moore School of Business is ranked number two in the nation for both its International MBA program and undergraduate studies. Because Columbia is home to some of the top industry talent in the world, dozens of companies from across the globe are represented by the work being done by our local professionals. It is because of this talent that the city continues to be an industry hub, influential in insurtech transformation, innovation and direction. Those working in insurtech often hear Columbia referred to as the Silicon Valley of the East. We don’t agree. We prefer to think of Silicon Valley as the Columbia of the West. Martie Cowsert Streit is the CEO of Lilichuks, a Charleston-based firm offering a portfolio of marketing, communications and sales operations services. www.lilichuks.com



Understanding your company’s financial health using one financial statement By Shelia Tutwieler-Dawkins


ake a few minutes to consider if your organization is making money or if your organization is in the red. As business owners, we recognize the balance sheet and the income statement because these reports identify how much equity we have and if we have a potential tax liability. While these statements are essential, the cash flow statement gives an accurate picture of how much cash is generated. This statement generally receives the least attention. Most accounting software can generate basic financial statements. But understanding the reporting differences allows the entrepreneur to make strategic business decisions to remain viable and competitive. Although each financial report has a designated function, they are not stand-alone reports. Income Statement The income statement outlines the company’s revenues, expenses and net income or loss. The net income or loss flows into the owner’s equity. If the company generates a loss of income, there is a reduction in owner’s equity. On the other hand, if the company is profitable, there is an increase in the owner’s equity, provided there are no other changes. You may ask, “What is the owner’s equity?” Balance Sheet The balance sheet shows the firm’s assets, liability and owner’s equity or retained earnings. The assets are what you own, such as cash, account receivables, inventory, land, building, and equipment minus any accumulated depreciation. It can also include any intangible assets, like your trade name. Liabilities are the company’s obligations, what you owe, which can be current and long-term. The difference between your assets and liabilities is your equity. If you have assets of $10,000 and liabilities of $5,000, your equity is $5,000. On the other hand, if you have assets of $10,000 and liabilities of $11,000, your

equity is a negative $1,000. The critical principle is assets minus liabilities equals your equity. Why the Cash Flow Statement determines your company’s health Your income statement and balance sheet are a snapshot in time of your financial position, and your cash flow statement dictates your financial health. Why? Your cash flow statement is both accumulative and continuous. Additionally, there is a delineation between operating, investing and financing activities. Operating expenses might include sales of goods and services, interest payments, salaries and other costs directly related to your business. Investing expenses are related to capital expense (more than one year). Financing expense involves debt, equity and dividends. Other costs, like depreciation and amortization (most common), are not included in the cash flow statement. If you subtract your depreciation or amortization from your income statement, there is a potential for a positive cash flow. Understanding your business’s financial health and what to do next Suppose you understand the importance of your cash flow statement. In that case, you must review your business plan to ensure that you recognize your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. If you are having difficulties determining your business’s financial health, you may want to contact a strategic or tax advisor. This is such a great time to energize your business and create a plan that gives you the tools to succeed. Maintaining a positive cash flow gives you the ability to live your dream while creating a future for you and your company. Shelia Tutwieler-Dawkins is a manager at Clark Eustace Wagner, PA. For more information, email stutwielerdawkins@cewpas.com. facebook.com/TheFSuite | 17


COLUMBIA'S PAINTED SPACES Murals prove good for business, the city and the community By Haley Kellner ith each mural she creates, artist Ija Charles starts painting at 3 AM. The dark, quiet morning eases her into a meditative state as she uses her art to turn a business owner’s meaningful backstory into part of the customer experience. “I only work with people who have stories because I feel like the way I’m inspired is if you inspire me with your story,” says Charles, whose work now spans the Southeast. “That’s my favorite part, putting people’s lives and their heart into the painting, so it’s more than just a pretty painting.” Given those guidelines, Brittany Koester and the soon-to-be Azalea Coffee Bar were perfect candidates. Inspired by Koester’s mother, the shop will aim to support women in every business aspect, including coffee and tea sourced solely from women-run farms. And while you might not glean the full backstory from a visit, looking toward Koester’s mother, smiling warmly from the mural Charles painted, you’ll know in this shop, women are honored. “I don’t know why businesses wouldn’t put a mural somewhere on their space if they can,” Koester says, having already garnered media attention from Charles’ creation. Come opening day, she expects the mural will only continue to bring people inside, adding to the shop’s feminine ambiance and making for a completely unique experience. “It’s ours,” Koester says. “There’s not another business that is ever going to have this piece.” Or another city, given that Columbia, too, benefits from each local art piece. Organizations like the Congaree Vista Guild realize this, funding art for the community itself, as they did in commissioning artist Cait Maloney to paint the Gervais Street mural, “Lady Vista.”


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Photo Cait Maloney Creative

Maloney created “Lady Vista” with the simple hope of brightening someone’s day. She believes with every new mural, a city becomes “a little bit more welcoming” and gains “a little bit of a personality.” Businesses or organizations wanting to add to that personality should start by finding an artist whose style you love. Reach out with your story, and see if they have room on their schedule. Share any colors or themes specific to your business. Await the jaw dropping design. While the actual painting can take a couple days or a couple weeks, the wait is worth it, as is the price of paying artists fairly. Some muralists charge by their time; others like Charles charge by square foot, with half put down initially to cover upfront costs. Whether you’re a business owner, organization, artist, or local, it seems to be in everyone’s best interest that Columbia’s mural scene continues to grow. With every new painting, a local business gets a boost and a local artist gets supported. Visitors have a new point of interest, and residents have a new point of pride. The city thrives in its individualism as a new story is added to otherwise empty walls. See the artwork of Ija Charles (@ija_monet) and Cait Maloney (@caitmacncheese) on Instagram. Azalea Coffee Bar is soon to open on Devine Street.

Silver Tones

REIMAGINING YOURSELF, REALISTICALLY Rediscovering your value is the first step in redesigning your career By Sylvie Golod


have been reflecting upon how I, as well as many of you, have changed and adapted during the past year. As a result of COVID-19, we are having to learn to maneuver within a more complex workforce, which is also grappling with new challenges. How do we reimagine our present circumstances while maintaining a realistic vision? Chappelle B. Stevenson, Columbia Metropolitan Airport's director of Human Resources & Diversity, ignited the attention of educators, workforce development professionals and business leaders when she said, “... women sometimes don’t acknowledge their value. Men will tell you how great they are and negotiate out the wazoo.” Stevenson has seen a shift in younger women becoming more adept in negotiating and promoting their value. However, for women over 45, it is still a challenge that must be fought with curiosity, armed by courage and fired in commitment. Her words resonated with me as a mature woman in the business world, and reaffirmed why rediscovering our value is the crucial first step to redesigning our career. Therefore, we must implement practical and confrontational skills to expose our worth. Below are some suggestions for beginning to realistically assess yourself through a wider lens. Journal: Reflect on the specific lessons, skills, and values you’ve attained at this point in

your life. Perform an accurate self-assessment of not only your strengths, but your weaknesses. Courageously handling your ignorance and limitations will empower your character, career and life vision. Recite: Begin formulating your vision by affirming out loud the revelations of your journaling. “Don’t be afraid to sing your own praises and beat your own drum,” said Stevenson. Research: Research companies and entrepreneurial ventures that align with your vision. Read about and follow people online who have similar qualities and are thriving in their field. Analyze individual strategies, innovative business models and ask questions. Recruit mentors. Network: Everyone has connections and opportunities evolve through relationships. Get to know people; build rapport, be of service to them and the community. With your gifts of time, talent, and commitment, you will reap what you sow. Educate: Self-education is imperative to you staying mentally healthy and not becoming a bore to yourself or others. Challenge and enhance your weaknesses. Technology is an area where we all can improve. Be curious. FREE options exist: Online courses, tutorials, virtual conferences and webinars. Listen to podcasts and read daily. Self-care: A woman who practices selfcare exudes confidence. How is your mental and physical health? Employers like nothing more than to see a confident person walk in and demonstrate by their countenance the value they can bring to the organization, according to Stevenson. Therefore, as we travel towards rediscovering our value and redesigning our career, we must follow the airline industry's life-giving advice as we prepare for a flight: put your oxygen mask on yourself first. And so it should be in our lives. We must deeply breathe in our self-worth before we can influence anyone in the seat next to us.

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A Memoir

by Anna Wiener In 2013, Anna Wiener faced an uncertain future as an entry-level employee with a New York literary agency. Sensing possibilities in the tech field, she accepted an offer to join an e-book platform startup. The founders seemed unsure of what to do with her and ultimately let her go, but not before helping her to land an interview for a customer-support position with a data-analytics startup in San Francisco. Thus, began Wiener’s odyssey through the “uncanny valley” of the Bay Area startup scene. As a female with a liberal arts background, she was doubly an outlier in this world. “[M]en were everywhere,” she writes. “I was always fixing things for them, tiptoeing around their vanities, cheering them up… My job had placed me, a self-identified feminist, in a position of ceaseless, professionalized deference to the male ego.” The accumulating “list of casual hostilities toward women” at the startup eventually drove Wiener to move to a new job with a company that created software tools for developers. There was a “red flag,” in the form of a gender-discrimination scandal at the firm that had earlier made national news, but the absurdly generous perks and pay led her to overlook this. What finally drove Wiener to leave the insular world of Silicon Valley was the realization that she had gone there in an attempt to escape the “emotional, impractical…part of me that…had no apparent market value.” The young, rich founders of the startups, in contrast, “saw markets in everything, and only opportunities.” Wiener’s vivid, perceptive writing makes this one of the finest memoirs about Silicon Valley yet written. Her diagnosis of its flaws seems spot-on, yet she also conveys just how seductive the startup-culture lifestyle can be. —Bland Lawson, Richland Library Business & Careers Department



Even if you're in the know, these tricksters can get by you By Dr. Nancy Tuten


ome mistakes in English usage are simply easier to make than others, and even experienced writers make them from time to time, especially when they are in a hurry. Consider, for example, confusion over homophones—in particular, it’s/its, they’re/their*, you’re/your, and who’s/whose. In each case, the words sound identical but have different meanings. The first word in each pair is a contraction, shorthand for the expressions it is, they are, you are, and who is. The apostrophe in contractions, as we all know, is placed where letters have been omitted. The second word in each pair is a possessive pronoun. Simple, right? Wrong. We know we need apostrophes in contractions, but we also know that apostrophes are often used to indicate possession. “Why is it,” the frustrated writer may be justifiably tempted to ask, “that possessive pronouns don’t need apostrophes? After all, when we make names possessive, we use an apostrophe: “Maddie’s glove,” “José’s car,” “Sean’s house,” for example. It helps to remember that possessive pronouns don’t need apostrophes because they are already possessive. In our examples, we needed apostrophes with Maddie, Jose, and Sean to show possession because those proper nouns can also be used in other contexts; that is, sometimes those nouns aren’t possessive. When they are possessive, we need a way to signal that shift to the reader. Possessive pronouns, in contrast, have no other function except to show possession, so apostrophes aren’t necessary. Not all possessive pronouns tempt us to insert an apostrophe. Consider my, mine, our, her, your, and his, for example—no temptation there. But the ones that sound exactly like commonly used contractions give us the most trouble because our mind plays tricks on us: First, we see the contractions often enough that the apostrophe looks normal. Second, we know we need a possessive pronoun. Third, we associate the possessive case with apostrophes. And so we insert an apostrophe where none is needed. To avoid making this common mistake, any time we are tempted to insert an apostrophe in these four words, take a moment to ask if the uncontracted construction (it is, they are, you are, or who is) would work in its place. We would never say, for example, “The shiny bauble has lost it is luster,” so we shouldn’t write “it’s luster.” Likewise, in the construction “You’re right,” you’re can logically be replaced with “you are,” so the contraction is the right choice; we should avoid writing “your right.” Intellectually, most writers understand the difference between most common homophones, but when we are in a hurry, typing with our thumbs, or dashing off a quick comment or text, it’s (it is—check!) easy to get confused. *Space doesn’t permit us to also bring in the third homophone in this group: there.

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Adjust Your Sails  Pick up colored pencils and an adult coloring book and allow the lines to guide your hand as you bring to life a beautiful shape or subject.  Take a painting class and project yourself to a hillside in Tuscany as you dip the bristles and drag the paint in a downward, circular motion to create an olive on your canvas.  Find a pottery class and sit at the wheel, hands wet and messy, free to investigate the texture of the clay and mold it into a one-of-a-kind bowl as it spins before you.


When we steer our rudder through the calming currents of canvas, color, and texture, we gain an experience. By Karen Campbell


s a child I loved to color. As a tween I taught myself calligraphy and learned to weave baskets. While in high school I painted watercolors. And as an adult, I dabble in children’s murals and acrylics on canvas. I came to appreciate how all these artistic activities quell my emotions, redirect my thoughts, allow me to create my own story, escape reality and better appreciate a loss or gain of control. It was, and still is, soothing. Whether or not we’re artistically inclined, art has benefits for all of us. Studies show and art therapy professes that when we create or observe art, it presents a path to better well-being by giving us permission to deviate from daily, linear and more logical thinking–the kind of thinking that tenses our foreheads, binds us in knots and wakes us up at night. Becoming a patron or practitioner of art encourages a freer, disconnected, more

creative awareness. It can also boost confidence and resilience. Stress triggers are everywhere today, and while the walls seem to be closing in, our social lives are stunted, and travel is limited, art presents creative ways to shift our thinking, release our inhibitions and take a journey on our own time, in our own ways to anywhere our minds desire. Art doesn’t have to make sense. It does not come with prerequisites or fit into a spreadsheet. There are no deadlines, it won’t require a suit and heels, or keep you after hours. That’s the beauty of it. You just need to avail your senses and your mind. If you are open and accessible, art can stir up a personal wind of change and transcend you to the very passageway you may be seeking for more tranquil waters. Let your mind go astray and relax as the lines and structure of your world recede. Don your inner Picasso and run away… even if you never leave home!

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” – Twyla Tharp

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WHY LINKEDIN DOESN’T CONNECT And why I use it anyway By April Blake



ou’ve got to have a LinkedIn or it looks suspicious. Or like you don’t know how to use computers, neither of which sends the right message.” I said that to a friend who was having a hard time finding a job after graduating as a non-traditionally aged student. I hate the truth behind it, and I extend my general disdain to all of LinkedIn. Profiles are shiny, glossed-up versions of people only presented to the world when they need something from it. It’s the digital version of pasting a Mona Lisa smile on your face during a really boring meeting. It’s like a resume you’re expected to engage with frequently to prove your professional worth. It’s not really real. When do you normally update your LinkedIn, reader? Is it when you want

something from it? Most people only update their LinkedIn and start posting new statuses for the feed when looking to find a new job, check out potential hires, or find a sly way to meet someone they think can help their career. It’s hard to feel good engaging with content and people who you know have a motive lurking behind their dry clean-only clothes and their jazzed-up job titles. But seriously, who feels like they are putting a true version of themselves on LinkedIn? I’m not saying you need to upload your bachelorette party photos, but what LinkedIn represents is a very thin sliver of oneself. If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that some people believe that what they see on social media is 100% real. They don’t understand the iceberg effect that is social media, which is what it sounds like: the general public only sees what shows above the surface, not what lurks below.

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Below sea-level is the real grunt work you put in daily, the griping with coworkers or friends, the emotions you bury when rejected after a job interview and the flaws that make us who we are. What shows above is a merely smiling face and perky updates to the LinkedIn feed. “Just took a course on SEO and am totally ready to rock my company’s website strategy! Let’s chat if you’ve taken it too so we can synergize!” And speaking of chatting, how about messaging on LinkedIn? Pretty much every woman on LinkedIn has received a weird message from a thirsty man. But then again, that happens on all social media platforms, not just LinkedIn. And what about the irrelevant job offers? Sorry, I am not moving to Austin, Texas, for a social media internship! All complaining aside, LinkedIn is useful sometimes. You can see the history of someone whose career you admire, or reference it to see people’s experience if you’re going to interview them or be interviewed by them. And you can list your published works in one spot. I’ve even snagged a few freelance gigs from people who found me on LinkedIn, but they’re usually location-specific. Really, my annoyance with LinkedIn may not be with the platform itself, but with how people attach importance to the constant maintenance of it. With few things for me to update about my job due to its nature, it feels like I’m neglecting LinkedIn, which in turn makes me look not very up-to-date on social media and marketing skills. Let’s all agree to see and use LinkedIn for what it is — a semi-interactive resume featuring our smiling mugs that only gets updated when we need something from it. By the way, I’ll be checking LinkedIn messages for your freelance gig offers.

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