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I am the child of two mixed race parents.  My father is half Japanese and English, while my mom is half Hawaiian and English.  When they first relocated to Yakima, Washington in 1976 and tried to rent a home in the small town of Zillah, the landlord actually told my mother that he would never rent to a mixed race couple. Growing up in a small town as a self titled “gourmet mutt”, it was never appropriate for me to use racial slang words and I didn’t learn many of them until I was out of my parent’s house over age 18.  

I will never forget watching golf with my dad one Sunday when I was about 8 years old and he explained how the Augusta National course did not allow people that were not white to be members.  I was full of fury over this tremendous injustice, going on about how that should be illegal and making the assumption that my father would be just as fired up as I was.  Calmly, my father explained, “We should celebrate that in this country we are able to have private clubs that hold their own individual belief systems.  It is a privilege that we can hold whatever belief system we want because in many countries, we would be thrown in prison just for believing in God.”  

Less than a month ago we were all celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. march on Washington.  Today, we are all talking about the racist idiots that are saying horrible things about our newest Miss America, Nina Davuluri, because she is an Indian American.  Some misidentified her as an “arab”, said her crowning is “un American”, and that they couldn’t believe this happened with the “9-11 anniversary last week.”  I quit reading some of the posts because they were so ugly and disgusting.  I am reminded of something Martin Luther King, Jr said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  

With that, I offer up huge congratulations to Nina Davuluri for her big win and I celebrate the fact that America allows people to be idiots.  Keep it up- you’re making the rest of us look super smart!

Watch Nina’s inspirational Overture video here: http://vimeo.com/72216252


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BossBabe

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At my very first official networking event I got all dressed in the business suit my dad had taken me to buy, went with my branch manager to the local chamber of commerce, and, armed with a stack of brochures about the allure of checking and savings accounts, the dance of the card swap began.  A plumber, an Avon lady, an insurance agent, oh my!  By the time I left that event, I had a stack of business cards and not a clue what to do next.  

Now onto today.  It’s been a few years since that first networking event, but my experiences with more professional conferences and BNI meetings than I’d care to admit have just served to enforce that I was right.  I HATE NETWORKING.  I refuse to network and you should, too.  Here’s how: 

#1: You can say anything in 3 sentences.  Anything.  So get your introduction down to 3 sentences.  I don’t want to hear about your childhood and I most certainly don’t want to hear the dirty details of your most recent child birthing experience.  Try this formula ladies: NAME- PROBLEM WITH THE WORLD THAT YOU ARE SOLVING- HOW YOU ARE SOLVING IT.  Here’s mine:  Hi there, my name is Krista.  The world needs more people who do what they do best. I focus on helping more people do what they do best by doing what I do best: terminating the challenges that get in their way.  

#2: Get uncomfortable.   If you own the room and already know everyone, get out of your gold fish bowl.  The last thing you want to do is become a whale in a fish pond.  Aim to be a feisty guppy in a room full of whales and sharks.  Stop connecting with the same people in the same place trying to sell them the same damn thing you’ve been selling for months.  Oh yeah, months.  If you have been trying to network in the same place for years, smack your head.  It’s broke.  That horse is dead sweetie.  Let it go and move the hell on. 

#3: Start with a smile.  Oh ladies you know the sour puss face.  The face that manages to equally convey snob/bitch/wicked witch/you stole my boyfriend in one fell swoop?  If you don’t know what I am talking about, come see me after and we can have a more candid chat because you might just be the one in the room with sour puss face. Your face is the greeting, so start by making it friendly and inviting.  And for heavens sake, don’t just smile at business events.  I am always smiling at strangers, who have turned into friends, who have turned into clients.   

#4: Get your new friends talking.  I’m going to let all of you in on a little secret.  I have spoken to rooms of 1,000 people, but if you get me in a room of 50 people, I turn into the biggest chicken you’ve ever met.  I turn ridiculous and suddenly my email from groupon about some random hair removal offer is the most important thing I need to concentrate on.  It’s like the first day at a new school all over again.  Just like you do at a new school, connect with people.  Channel your inner Oprah.  Ask the bold questions and really listen for the answer.  My personal favorite is “What was the first concert you ever went to?”  I try to stay away from business topics unless my new friend absolutely insists. 

#5: Assume I do NOT want what you are selling.  Because here is the God’s honest truth.  NO ONE WANTS TO BUY WHAT YOU ARE SELLING.  They want to buy into you, your expertise, and your success.  I don’t really need a snuggie, but I believe so enthusiastically in my friend Kevin Harrington over at As Seen on TV that I bought two.  Kevin didn’t start our friendship by selling me on the benefits of his vast product line.  If he had, we wouldn’t be friends.  

#6: Leave your business card in your wallet and get out your smart phone.  Your business card is awesome and if you ask for it, I will have it ready.  My goal is not to collect your card.  In fact, I don’t want your business card!  This is not the Vegas strip ladies and I don’t want the naked lady equivalent of your business.  I want to bust out my iPhone and connect with you on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.  Let’s be honest: I am not using you or your services unless I trust you and that is not going to happen in a 5 minute chit chat at a professional event.  It can happen over time as I allow you into my world and I engage with you in yours. 

#7: Fine wine over box wine.  Building relationships is not about quantity, so focus on connecting with a few select people that intrigue you or share your energy. Follow up with the people you connected with through social networks or email. Invest in more time to connect through a lunch or drinks.  Never forget that 1 passionate person is more effective than 40 merely interested.  Build an army of passionate people who believe in you and build that army one soldier at a time.   


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BossBabe

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Recently I’ve had some “smack my head” moments with ladies in business.  Listen, I am a huge fan of the sisterhood and you won’t find a bigger believer that women can achieve equally to men.  However, in order to achieve the equality we have been seeking for decades, we need to get our crap together.  Here are a few tips to help you get your business on without being “that woman” in the room.

SLUTTY IS NEVER PROFESSIONAL  The dress you wear on Friday nights to the club is not appropriate for 10AM coffee meetings.  When in doubt, cover it up and dress more conservatively than your usual.  Pretend you are going to church with your grandma.  This is especially true if it’s your first meeting with someone.  The phrase “use what your mama gave you” didn’t mean to sell your services by broadcasting your cleavage.  

KEEP THE KIDS AT HOME  Unless it was clearly specified that the event you were attending was kid friendly, keep your kids at home.  I love including my girls where ever I can, but executives do not want to get to know your inner mommy side when they have business meetings.  In order to be taken seriously as a business professional, you need to be laser focused on the meeting and task at hand.  With children running around, this is impossible.  Can’t find a sitter?  Reschedule.  

SHOW UP ON TIME  Yes, it does take longer to get out of the house with a family than it did when you were 22 and single, but you are also (hopefully) more responsible than you were back then, so leave early, anticipate traffic, and plan your day like a responsible adult.  Tardiness tells the people you are meeting with that they are not as important as you and that their time is not as valuable.  If you are late I am already making the case in my mind why we should never ever do business together.  

IF YOU KNOW IT ALL, DON’T TAKE THE MEETING  I subscribe to the belief that I have something to learn from every person that passes through my life.  For some of these people, the lesson I learn is that they have life figured out.  How lucky!  If you are already sure that you have all the answers, don’t eat up the precious time of others just to share it with us.  My goal in life is to give back and, while smacking you to awaken you to the reality that you are incorrect would be tremendously fulfilling, I just don’t have the time to waste.  

As someone who was pregnant for 18 of the first 24 months as I founded and grew a fast growth company, I understand that you have to juggle.  I understand that it is tough and I struggle with the same challenges all women in business do, but that is not an excuse.  There is no excuse for women in business not to hold themselves to the same standard of behavior and professionalism that men are held to.  Cheers to good business ladies!