How Women Lead Differently, And Why It Matters

I think it’s time women have a candid conversation about power. It’s a conversation that will impact men and needs to include them. Together, we’ve reached a population of 7 billion; in another 38 years, we’ll rise to 9 billion. Women make up 52 percent of the global whole and control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. Our decisions have a measurable impact on local businesses, regional economies, and the transnational marketplace. How we choose to conceive and exert power as a group has the potential to define the 21st century.

In recent years, we’ve seen calls for accountability, fairness, and openness galvanize revolutionary movements and thinking. Long-held assumptions about who has power have been radically disrupted by technology and the culture of a digitally native generation. Influence isn’t just wielded from the corner office anymore–influence is wired, it’s mobile, it’s six thousand miles away, being transmitted via Twitter.

Many of us are living in an age of virtual access and virtual freedom, but we can’t ignore that there’s a tension between the instant connectivity that technology makes possible for all people and the reality of economic and social inequities that continue to alienate and disadvantage most people. Less than one third of the world’s population has access to the Internet. Three out of four people living in absolute poverty–less than $1 a day–are in rural areas.

We’ve created a hyperconnected world where the vast majority is removed from systems that shape their daily reality. The mass unrest that delivered us the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring shares a common element: a sense of disempowerment.

The way we do business, the way we approach development and exercise diplomacy are grappling to keep pace with evolving, complex effects of globalization. Fundamentally, we still want the same things: security, liberty, equity, and peace. People want to be considered, to belong, and to contribute.

If we want to successfully navigate this new world, spark economic resurgence and close the gaps in equity that threaten stability, we need new thinking, new partners–we need to elevate a new paradigm of power. We need leaders who understand local nuances and global interdependence. We need decisions to be predicated on sustainability not opportunism. We need leadership that leverages power for collective empowerment.

I see a solution in women–in the distinct way women wield power. Women’s leadership is a force that can and must be harnessed for the global good.

Research shows that women direct up to 90 percent of their income to community infrastructure and improvement, whereas men reinvest 30 to 40 percent of their income. The World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report finds that women with decision-making power accelerate positive development outcomes, and studies from the World Economic Forum confirm a strong correlation between an increase in gender equality and an increase in gross domestic product per capita.

It’s now universally accepted that women are proven catalysts for economic growth–they are also a leadership reserve.

Long excluded from traditional power structures, women lead differently than men. Restricted access to resources has made ingenuity a matter of survival for many; frustration with impenetrable oligarchies and inherited bureaucracies has instilled the value of transparency and creative, practical thinking in others. Women have been forced to operate from outside closed networks, which means they’ve had to adapt by creating their own worlds; they’ve learned to unite peripheral, disenfranchised communities into collectively organized and governed microcosms.

The particular qualities of women’s leadership take on a new significance and new power in today’s world. I believe that the strengths women possess and the behaviors that set them apart will lead us forward in the coming years: collaboration, conviction, inclusiveness, creativity, and mentorship.

Women are an emerging force for leadership. From the International Monetary Fund to the African Union, women are assuming superior leadership positions in organizations with internationally significant mandates. If we invest in the development of a critical mass of rising leaders and the communities they lead, efforts to spread peace and prosperity can have a potentially exponential reach.

The women I have known in my work with Vital Voices Global Partnership are pursuing equitable, inter-generational, sustainable progress. They are pragmatists. They are visionaries. They’re not waiting for economic recovery or democratization–they are actively creating the future they imagine for their families and countries.

If we have the courage to accept that our current crises afford us the opportunity to do things differently, if we recognize the value of women’s leadership power and enlist women as partners in the redesign and reconstruction of broken systems, we can activate a global reset that accrues to the benefit of our shared global community.

Alyse Nelson is the president and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership and author of the new book [i]Vital Voices: The Power of Women Leading Change Around the World
 published by Jossey-Bass.[/i]

[Image: Flickr user Morning Calm News]


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Sarah Robinson is Our Guest Expert for the August Women Grow Business chat

We’re quite lucky to have Sarah Robinson available for our August chat, on the topic of how to get started building a fiercely loyal community.

Why Sarah Robinson? And Haven’t We Already Talked About Community?

Yes, a few months back, we had an informal discussion about community in our Women Grow Business chat, without a guest expert. And it was fun and informative too, as several community members stepped up to give us great advice from their real-world experience with building community.

However, it’s clear after some one on one conversations with several of the women in our Facebook group that we need to cover this topic more in-depth. After all,  a loyal community can be the key to unstoppable growth. Just look at Apple computer, Amazon’s top reviewers, or the eWomen’s Network.

Sarah has a book coming out on this topic, called “Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities” with case studies from multiple sources and communities of varying sizes. (The book is set to release on September 19, 2012. For a free preview, pick up her free whitepaper, “The ROI of Fierce Loyalty“.)

Having examined the topic extensively, with documentation of her observations, Sarah Robinson is considered an expert on the topic of what makes community members loyal.

More About Sarah

Given the recent controversy surrounding the idea of expertise, our community won’t accept a person to be an expert without some third party verficaction. If you’re one of the more exacting members of the Women Grow Business family, you’ll be pleased to learn that Sarah isn’t one of those self-touted gurus. Among her accolades:

  • Sarah has been quoted in,  and profiled on AmEx Open.
  • On Dun Bradstreet’s list of the Most Influential Small Business Experts on Twitter, she ranks number 47.
  • She is also one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential Women Tweeting about Entrepreneurship.

If you want to read more about Sarah, you can find her at Fierce Loyalty, her blog. Or you can come ask her questions directly at our next Twitter chat on Monday, August 13, 2012 at Noon Eastern/New York time.

And here’s a video where you can see Sarah discussing fierce loyalty first hand.

(If you’re reading this via syndication and can’t see the video link, click here to view the live post.)

How do you follow The #WgBiz Twitter chats?

  1. Log into Twitter, Tweetchat, Tweetgrid, Tweetdeck, or any other Twitter tool that lets you isolate a hashtag.
  2. Follow our Twitter hashtag #wgbiz. (In Twitter you can use the search at the top of the screen, in Tweetchat or Tweetgrid, once you’re logged in, you’ll see an area for you to enter the hashtag at the top of the screen. In Tweetdeck, you can create a column that searches for that hashtag)
  3. Arrive as early as 11:45 a.m. to introduce yourself, send us a link to your site, and share your latest project, as well as to meet the other chatters.
  4. Make sure you’re following the host, in this case me (@wbgiz is the official channel,@Tinu is my personal handle), and featured guest(s) if any, this time around, Sarah Robinson (@SarahRobinson). This way, you can easily follow the conversation, send questions during the chat, or follow up  later.
  5. Have fun!  Our twitter chats are meant to be educational, sure, but also lighter fare than a teleconference or webinar.

We’ll post another reminder as the day approaches. In the meantime, you can add this event on Google Plus, Plancast and Facebook. Or you can download this calendar reminder for your Outlook (or other desktop calendar programs that are compatible with .ICS files).



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Holy Moly, I’m Happy!

So, I have been pulling my hair out with stress, but my new favorite – my new telephone answering service, has really saved the day. I run a small business out of my home. Fashion stuff, mostly. But it has been growing pretty quickly over the last couple of months. Growing so quickly that I have been going crazy. I have been up way too late taking orders and taking phone calls from customers, and I was starting to wonder how I was going to do it all. My friends all thought that I had died because I was no where to be found.

Happily, my friend Lauren knew of my plight. And she gave me the best advice that I have gotten in a long, long time. She said, “hire an answering service, Bella.” I hadn’t even thought of that, and if I had, I would have thought that it would have been way too expensive for my little home business. And besides, I don’t want my customers talking to people who barely speak English. They need to come back and order more! Again, my friend had an answer. She is a doctor, and her practice has used an answering service for years. They are based locally, the operators are from the local area, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

So, I gave them a call. I was shocked at how inexpensive it was, and I tried a free 7 day trial of the service to make sure that it was going to work for me and my customers. Boy does it! They take all of my phone calls now. They take orders, answer questions, and if it is anything that requires my attention, they patch the call right through to me. It’s so easy! I have a life again, and I am so happy! Thanks to Lauren for the advice and thanks to my answering service for making my life so much easier.

What is the Deal With Terrible Merchandising?

OK, so I was walking through the mall the other day, doing a little bit of window shopping. I like to look at what I can’t afford, because I’m always up for a little bit of torture. But what I saw this time shocked me. There was a new store in the mall that I was really looking forward to checking out. It billed itself as funky antiques and art. Sounded cool, their signage during construction was great, but then I got to see the actual store. Yikes!

First of all, the store’s contents were literally spilling out into the mall. They have a weird corner location so they can have some of their merchandise outside the doors. But it isn’t arranged in any kind of an organized fashion. They have this huge metal lion, some rocks, a table, and a bunch of other things that I can’t remember at the moment just sitting there in a weird kind of pile. At first I thought that maybe the store wasn’t open, but it was. It looked like the contents from inside had just kind of spilled out… kind of like in cartoons when the kid opens his closet door and everything that he stashed in there when he cleaned his room comes crashing out.

So at this point, in sick fascination, I decide that I have to go take a closer look. When I get to where I can see past the giant lion into the store, I notice that the inside looks nearly as bad. It is like they had enough stuff to fill four stores and decided to cram it all into one. Tiny aisles, tall shelves, lots of things that were supposed to smell good (but really didn’t when they were all mixed together), and all of it in bright colors. It was complete mess of sensory overload. I couldn’t get myself to walk through the door. It was like my feet said, “you can’t make me go in there, it’s gonna hurt my head.” So, sadly, I walked away and did the rest of my window shopping. Maybe someday I can convince my feet to let me have a quick peek inside.

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Muse Monday Grit And Glamour

I hate Mondays. I hate them so much because I can never get anything done on Mondays! Take this post for instance. I started it on Monday, but by the time that I finally am getting around to posting it, it’s Wednesday already. Uggh. Maybe someday I’ll actually be able to be productive on a Monday. I can hope, right? Just writing this made me think of the movie Office Space, and having a case of the Mondays. That movie always makes me smile… and laugh.

I call this post Muse Monday, because this Monday (I can’t say today because it’s been two whole days since then :( ) I had the brilliant idea to start this blog. I’ll be sharing some things that I love, some things that I hate, and some things that just make life easier. I work full time, and I take my responsibilities as a wife and mom very seriously. It means that most of the time there just isn’t enough time in the day to get done all that I’d like to. So I’ve become a master at squeezing the most out of any day and that will be one of the main focuses of this blog.

I am also a bit of a fashionista. I love fashion, though I don’t always think that the latest trends are a good idea… especially for those of us that are not 6 feet tall and 110 pounds. I sometimes wonder what the designers are thinking when I watch the runway shows (or whether they even look at what their models look like). They have these beautiful, stick thin models and they somehow make them look fat. And I think to myself, if she looks fat in that dress, what will I look like? Yikes…

I’m also big into saving money in creative ways. One way I do it is to make a lot of gifts. I find ways to mass produce to save time and money, and sometimes I can even enlist the help of my husband and boys. It can be a great family time. We have made some great memories, and we have so much fun, my boys don’t know that we do it just to save money! My favorite was from a couple of years ago was to make homemade hot chocolate, peppermint bark, and homemade marshmallows for lots of people last year. We packaged it in a mug and some nice looking bags and it looked like it cost a fortune. This was my favorite because my husband got the exact same combination (hot chocolate, peppermint bark, and marshmallows) from his boss,  but the Pottery Barn version. It probably cost $40, and mine looked and tasted way better. I was proud of that one!

Well, that’s it for today. I’ll try to keep up with posting here, and giving you some great information, though I can’t promise that I will do much posting on Mondays! If you have any questions, I’d love to hear about them.Look forward to talking to you again soon!

New Blog Name, New Design – Gorgeous In Grey

Finally after months of debating with my thoughts, asking my boyfriend and besties, and bugging my mentors and tweethearts for help renaming my little itty bitty blog – it came to me.

So we were sitting on the hotel bed in Manhattan during NYFW, trying to relax and catch up on what’s happening outside of the Lincoln Center. A headline popped across the tv screen – GORGEOUS AND GREY. Insert whistles and bells and my glorious ah-ha moment. The segment hightlighted women who greyed early like myself and how gorgeous and healthy their hair was (like mine). All the women featured were under 40 with a full head of grey hair. I instantly said that’s what my blog will be, Gorgeous and Grey. Well of course I debated about it for 2 weeks and when I went to purchase the domain name it wasn’t available. Along came Gorgeous In Grey which I think is totally better anyways.

I spent the last 8 days searching and then working on the template and a new logo. My switch to WordPress wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. The template that I had stalked for months wasn’t as customizable as the instructions tried to explain. Just like HeyBella, Gorgeous In Grey will still give you tons of fashion and beauty with a little lot of randoms thoughts in between.

I will still keep Hey Bella Blog for now. I have some ideas for her too. But please show some love to my new baby and tell all of your friends. A special uber uber thanks to all that helped in my decision ESPECIALLY my bf and my besties. If you’ve been reading my blog you know that they mean the world to me.


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#FBFF Blog Awards: And the Nominees Are…

I haven’t participated in Friend Friday all this month because I’ve been so swamped with the event coverage for NYFW. I was super excited when I revisited the email listing the questions for this week.

We’re doing our very own FBFF Blog Awards, thanks to our FBFF bloggerista Courtney. I’ve nominated one blogger for each of the categories below and explained why. The bosses over at FBFF will tally up all the responses and then list the top five bloggers named in each category. Those finalists will then be opened up to a public vote over the next couple of weeks.

And the nominees are…

1. Creative Juices – most creative

I love visiting You can always count on Mattie to have some cool really clean graphics. And who doesn’t like pictures.


2. The Real Deal – authenticity

I started following Gabi of Young Fat and Fabulous when she was nominated for MTV’s Twitter Jockey. I’ve only met her once at the fashion show but she’s really my style bff in my mind. She’s really comfortable in her skin and she gives you every piece of her in each blog post.


3. Spark Notes – most helpful

Ahh there are so many amazing things I can say about V of Grit&Glamour but I’ve already said them. Just know as a blogger if you ever have a question on how to do .. anything related to blogging – Ask V. (If you want to know how to join FBFF see V’s latest “how to”)


4. Newbie – best blogger less than a year old

I first really wanted to nominate myself but that seemed .. vain. So I opted for someone that I have shared my “newbie” crown with since the beginning. Kee of iStyleLikeMe has been by my side since I started. She’s my go to person for a much needed honest opinion. Kee has grown with me and has some amazing changes in stores. I cannot wait to be able to say “I knew, I knew”, and brag with her about her new blog venture.


5. Can You Hear Me Now – most connected

I can’t even remember how I found Christina of Love Brown Sugar but she’s been a great inspiration in my blog experience. She’s worked for a few major publications and you can find her at any event where the “who’s who” is attending.


6. If I had a Hammer – best DIY

I don’t really follow DIY blogs because I find an amazing joy in buying things than making them. But when I saw this category I instantly thought of PS I Made This. I applaud Erica for her creativity and her patience. I wonder how much she’s saved from making stuff?


7. Tribe Leader – blogger who leads others and brings bloggers together

Duh, Katy of Modly Chic is the reason why we do anything over at FBFF. So naturally she’s the Tribe Leader. I came into FBFF not expecting anything and I totally have gained a new fam of fab bloggers. We chat all day (literally) about everything and anything.


8. Practically Perfect – most fashionable

I will say I am quite green about her effortless style. And her blog has crazy swag too. Her new blog design fits her perfectly. Jinna of Grease&Glamour was one of the top 10 finalist in the FTF Sunglass Hut competition. I was green about that too.


9. Paint by Numbers – best beauty blogger

Always in a gorgeous red lip, Felicia of This That Beauty has quickly climbed to the top of the best beauty blogger ladder. Now freelancing for several publications she’s definitely a beauty blogger to watch for.


10. Renaissance Woman – best all around blogger, fashion, beauty, lifestyle.

Mattie of Mattieologie was also in the FTB Sunglass Hut Competition as one of the final 10. I followed her through the competition and rooted for her too. We became tweethearts and I can’t wait to finally meet her in person.

Welp! There’s my list. Good luck to you all.

Repeat After Me .. “I am Not Your JiggaBoo”

I originally posted this in July 2010. Since then, Beyonce has been added to the now popular fashion trend of “black face” so I thought perhaps we should revisit this topic.

Fashion is always pushing the envelope for new and innovative imagery, but when is it too much? Just when you think that we’ve gotten over that racial hump we’re sometimes reminded that perhaps some “ish” will never change?

I am somewhat torn by Beyonce’s decision to pose in “black face” for the popular publication L’Officiel Paris. Mainly because … well.. it’s Beyonce. Apparently she saw the play and was inspired by the Nigerian dancer Fela.

There’s a huge part of me that shrugs my shoulders to say it’s merely fashion, what’s the fuss about. And then there is the other huge half of me that would be quick to snap my neck and call you crazy if you would ever think to justify this foolery.

Do you think some things should be left in the past? Or can we recreate them, find the beauty of it, perhaps laugh a bit, and move on? Or is it like the “N” word and only we can do it?

I wanna know whatcha thinking? Check out a few more images of models in blackface who joined Beyonce in this trend. Study them hard and let me know if you really don’t care or if it’s offensive to you.