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  • 18 Jul 2011 11:51 AM | Working Women (Administrator)

    What’s the Real Scoop?

    By Chris Kuhn, Freelance Writer & Editor

    When you ask business owners to stand up and talk about themselves and their business, some have their 30-second commercial prepared and ready to roll off the tongue. For others, the phrase “deer in headlights” comes to mind. But what happens when those opportunities arise that can offer business owners a little more time, attention and exposure, such as speaking engagements, business profiles, or radio or TV interviews? As someone who frequently dons the “media hat,” I’m always fascinated to hear what entrepreneurs will focus on when telling about themselves and their products and services when given the chance to do so. They may think that they know the most compelling aspect of their biz “story” but do they really? Quite often, they don’t.

    So how do you determine what are the most compelling points of your story? There are several questions you can ask yourself to help guide you to the real story behind what you do.

    1. Why did you go into business?
      Is there a personal connection to what you’re doing? If it’s a cause, why is it so near and dear to your heart? If it involves a particular audience, what is it about this group that means so much to you? By sharing what inspired you to pursue your dream, you can inspire others, and inspiration is always compelling.
    2. What was your path like to get to where you are today?
      For some business owners, things seem to line up just perfectly but for others, there may be challenges to overcome and by sharing some of these with others, they not only gain an appreciation for your dedication but also for your fortitude and determination to beat the odds. Never underestimate the power of the underdog’s tale.
    3. What would most surprise an audience to learn about you or your business?
      As interesting as your business may be, sometimes it may be a characteristic, hobby or talent that a business owner has completely outside of what they do for a living, that will attract someone to the story. Perhaps you sell real estate for a niche market but it also turns out that you’ve won multiple triathlons. Or maybe you’re a financial planner who just so happens to have a real talent for art. In the process, we learn why you followed the professional path you did but see another side that may draw us to you as a business professional as well.
    4. What information about you or your business could benefit your audience?
      If you ask an inventor to talk about the most valuable part of their creation, you soon learn that what the innovator is most excited about isn’t always what the target market cares about. Yes, it has all of these bells and whistles, and isn’t that nice, but how does it help the customer? If however, you bring a marketer into the mix, he or she can quickly surmise that this new gadget will allow moms carpooling kids to speak their texts to friends by headset while they drive; or save them time preparing business proposals for clients with some automated voice-technology feature. We’re reminded that bells and whistles sound pretty but must know what value they offer to the customer. Stories work much the same way. Why do I want to hear from you? Is there some useful information – maybe from a personal story behind an idea or the outcome of a bad business decision – that I can learn from you? Interest me, yes, but educate me, too, and I’ll want to hear more.
    5. If you were reading a story about someone else, what would interest you enough to continue reading and can you draw parallels to these characteristics in your own life?
      We forget as we’re being storytellers that we ourselves are readers, too. No one likes to read a story they’ve heard before, yet each of us is a unique woman with very distinct experiences that have shaped who we are today. So what moves us? What compels us to go beyond that first paragraph and want to know more? As we consider what factors motivate us to read another’s story, we can take a closer look at our own life, examine our career path and ask honestly – if I were learning about how I reached where I am today, what experiences along the way and elements of my personal and professional background would make me click on “Read More”?

    Through our social media avenues, outside media outlets, speaking opportunities or even through our own marketing communications and website, we hold the key to telling the most compelling story about ourselves and our businesses. While we may not have control over how that story is told through certain channels such as traditional media or others’ blogs, we can take the reins each time we have the opportunity to share with others. The “real” story may not be what you anticipated at all, but may allow your customers and prospective clients to see a different side of you that is memorable, inspiring and a true lesson for us all.

  • 11 Jul 2011 6:26 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Pinkberry with Rivelli
    Article & Photography by Leslie Joy Ickowitz

    You never know what will transpire over the course of a visit with Jessica Rivelli but you can pretty much count on something wonderful.

    Something like the permanent smile I wear in her presence...

    Or the stories we share…

    Or the support we lend one another...

    And in this case...the Salty Caramel Pinkberrys we devoured.  Hers with milk chocolate shavings and mine with milk chocolate crunch. Both sprinkled with sea salt, which we agree took the salty caramel to the next level.

    Later we sulked after realizing we missed the caramel drizzle. Soooooo, naturally we'll have to go back. Perhaps not as frequently as WWOTB member Tracy Guida who we learned today is the "Mayor" of Pinkberry on Foursquare. But we will go back.   

    On my drive over to our midday rendezvous, Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" blared from the car stereoundefinedher powerful, expressive voice epitomizing girl power and moving me. In the moment, I was struck by how rich my life has been since finding friends among you wonderful women.
    Originally, this guest blog post was going to be an outpouring of affection for WWOTB as a whole but for now, I'll leave you with a little taste.

    My love for Working Women of Tampa Bay starts at the top (much like Heath Bar Crunch atop a Pinkberry). So this time, it's my pleasure to send Jessica Rivelli this Pinkberry kiss, for hers is a soul that deserves so much sweetness.

    ~Leslie Joy Ickowitz
    Publisher & Creative Director
    VERTICAL Tampa Bay

  • 21 Jun 2011 2:01 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    In July, Tampa entrepreneurs will get the unusual chance to participate in a weekend of business building and pitching where real businesses are thought up and real partnerships are formed. 54 hours is all it takes to take a business from idea to pitch stage, and that is exactly what will happen at the Microsoft Corporate building July 8 – 10. Tampa is one of many Startup Weekend events that take place around the world throughout the year.
    How successful are these events? Roughly 2,450 startups have been created including Food Spotting, Zaarly, and Pocket Tales. The most common question we have been asked while planning the Tampa event is; what if I’m not technical or don’t have a business idea? This should not discourage anyone from attending the event, because businesses are  intended to offer services and make money, the sky is the limit with opportunity. Everyone has something to offer.  Startup Weekend gives attendees the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals, mingle with local startup leaders and perhaps even take a shot at learning a new skill.
    Some of the women behind Startup Weekend Tampa:
    Startup Weekend Organizer and WWOTB Member Susie Steiner is no newbie when it comes to startups. Susie has her hands in many ventures including Fido’s Laundry, an online upscale dog boutique. She is the founder of Geek is Single and operates a highly successful freight brokerage business here in Tampa.
    Co-organizer - Kim Randall is a Social Brand Strategist and serial entrepreneur. Her companies and partnerships include KiMedia Strategies LLC and Geek Is Single.

    Mentor - Linda Olson is the founder of Tampa Bay WaVE, a local nonprofit organization with a mission to enable & support high growth web startups throughout Tampa Bay.  Currently, WaVE has over 3 dozen members, one of which you may have heard of (who was recently acquired for $35 million).  She is also the founder of 3 different web ventures of her own - WOMbeat!, StudGuru and Total Web Concierge.  When she is not working on WaVE or one of her ventures, Linda is an active board member for the TBTF Foundation and an advisor to several small and mid-sized local companies.

    Mentor – Katy Richard  is a front-end web developer for Grooveshark, she has a passion for clean code, usablilty, web standards, and design of all kinds - plus an unhealthy fetish for office supplies.

    Pitch Coach – Elizabeth Colón, National Speaker Trainer and Program Manager, will coach attendees on how to pitch their ideas and startup company to investors, both technical and financial.
    Please join us and many other wonderful Working Women of Tampa Bay for the first ever Startup Weekend Tampa.  Use the code WWTB for 20% discount.

    Startup Weekend Tampa July 8-10, 2011  For more information visit

    Working Women of Tampa Bay is an official sponsor of Startup Weekend Tampa.
  • 13 Jun 2011 4:37 PM | Working Women (Administrator)

    Working Women of Tampa Bay will donate all proceeds from this year's Birthday Bash to the T.E.A.R.S Foundation. If you would like to donate a product/service/gift certificate, please email

    Here is more on this wonderful cause....

    In the early hours of June 29, 2010, Tampa Police Officer Jeff Kocab and his Zone Partner were murdered during a routine traffic stop. This tragedy brought with it many mixed emotions--sorrow, anger, frustration, fear, etc. It was truly a "roller coaster" ride. Five months later, after contacting various support organizations and finding no resources for parents and siblings of fallen officers, the T.E.A.R.S. Foundation was formed.

    The T.E.A.R.S Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization and was founded by Sandra Kocab (mother of Fallen Officer) and Stephanie Kocab (sister of Fallen officer) in January 2011. These two amazing and strong woman somehow found away to turn their grief and tragedy into helping others. The foundation will help provide funds for Extended Family Members of Florida Fallen Officers to attend National Police Memorial Week in Washington D.C. each May to honor and pay respect to their loved one lost in the line of duty. They have also recently taken the foundation to higher levels as well. The Kocab Ladies and The T.E.A.R.S. Foundation are joining hands with Law Enforcement Agencies all across Western and Central Florida to help educate the young youth of today on respect when it comes to our men and woman in uniform. The foundation believes that we need to help educate our communities in a whole in order to try our best to stop all the tragic murders on the true heroes that serve and protect us daily.

    This past May, both ladies had the chance to attend the Services and Ceremonies in Washington D.C. They have already made in very clear that they will be returning next year and every year to follow. They found a sense of peace with Jeff at the Wall of Fallen Officers, a feeling they have yet to find anywhere else since they lost him almost one year ago. They say it is hard to explain, that is just the inner peace they found within. Sandy and Stephanie where able to attend classes and support groups there as well and had the opportunity to meet other mothers and siblings that experienced the same tragic loss they did. Both feel that it is of the utmost importance for all that suffer the sudden tragic loss of a fallen officer be able to attend and join all others from all across America in services, ceremonies, candle light visuals and prayer as one at our Nations Capital.

    Published By: Kristin Vogt-Wilson of It's Your Home Trinity Magazine/Topaz Marketing Group, Inc.

  • 07 Jun 2011 1:12 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    By: Emily Harrison
    Director of Marketing and Sales
    The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc.

    I first met Karin King from Treats for Troops about a year ago at a WWOTB networking event.  Treats for Troops sends care packages with items ranging from toothpaste to beef jerky over to United States troops serving in remote areas of the world who don’t have access to a store on base.   

    I remember thinking, “that’s nice, I bet she has a son or daughter fighting in the war and this is a way that she can support and honor them.” However, fast forward to a year later when The Melting Pot of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Oldsmar and Sarasota partnered with Treats for Troops to collect donations for the organization when I realized that was not the reason she is so passionate about caring for our troops.  When Karin King is asked why she does what she does for the troops, she says, “because of my freedom.” Upon getting to know Karin better, I found out that Karin is, as she says, “a brand new American.”  She became a U.S. citizen in 2006.  Karin met her husband in the 90’s when he was working in her native country, Suriname in South America.  They eventually married and moved to the United States.   

    Karin King founded Treats for Troops during the holiday season in 2007 when a family friend asked her to bake cookies to send overseas to the troops. The funny thing is, she did not know how to bake and says, “I almost burned the house down!”  However, she did bake some cookies, which turned out to be delicious and the overwhelming response she received in letters back, thanking her for the cookies and asking her to send more supplies led her to the realization that these soldiers needed more than just cookies.  With that, Treats for Troops was founded.  Karin spends her time creating awareness in the community, while she has a team of volunteers back at the warehouse who arrive at 4 a.m. every morning to pack and ship boxes.  Treats for Troops ships six tons of supplies per week and its postage bill can top $65,000 per month.  The organization is run completely off donations and none of the volunteers are paid a dime for what they do.  

    Treats for Troops receives donations from many different donors including Lance, Boy Scouts (which donates popcorn), Girl Scouts (which donates cookies) and even Zephyrhills Water Company which donates hundreds of dollars in boxes each month to pay for shipping.  Many of the treats and goodies that are sent to the soldiers are eventually shared with young boys and girls in the communities in which they serve.  Karin shared with me that over 90 percent of the intelligence the soldiers receive is received directly from the children in these countries.  The children tell the soldiers information such as where the bombs are hiding and where members of Al-Qaeda are located. 

    The number one request from the soldiers is for coffee, as the soldiers need to stay alert at all times.  The second most frequent request is for baby wipes, as showers can be few and far between when the troops are stationed in remote areas.  

    I recently spent some time in the Treats for Troops warehouse and was moved by the number of men and women who donate their time to the organization to send care packages to people they have never met.  These men spend hours a day, covered in sweat, packing and shipping.  Many of them being veterans themselves remember how nice it was to receive a care package when they were serving years ago.  

    The Melting Pot Restaurants of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Oldsmar and Sarasota are  currently collecting ‘a bag and a buck’ for Treats for Troops in honor of Memorial Day, July 4th and the launch of our American Big Night Out menu.  From now until July 3, when guests bring in a gallon-sized bag filled with items to be donated to our armed forces and a dollar bill for shipping costs, they will receive a free chocolate fondue with a $50 purchase.  For more information on what to include in the gallon-sized bag, visit or 

  • 08 Nov 2010 12:37 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Who wants to attend the "The Coolest Outdoor Lounge Party" in St. Pete? Working Women of Tampa Bay is giving away 2 VIP tickets to the 3rd Annual Chillounge Night on Saturday, November 20th.

    The tickets are for The VIP Lounge - which is currently SOLD OUT.
    Inside the VIP Lounge, food, drinks, cigars and gift bags are complimentary!!!!

    Here's what you have to do to win!
    RSVP to Chillounge on Facebook
    Become a fan of the Working Women of Tampa Bay
    Post a comment about why you deserve to have a "license to chill" on this blog
    Be present at the St. Pete Happy Hour sponsored by Florida Lifestyle Pools and American's Business Manager to receive your tickets!

    Drawing will take place at the Happy Hour at 8pm on Wednesday (11/10) at Queenheads Restaurant. Hope to see you there!

    More about:
    3rd Annual Chillounge Night on Saturday, November 20th, 2010
    6 pm - 11 pm.
    Straub Park will transform again into a magnificent outdoor lounge with 6 trucks of beautiful lounge furniture. Benefiting Creative Clay and The Woodson Museum.

    Be part of the transformation...this unique event, where the live broadcast and Park setting under the stars will be filled with life...and everyone will remember this enchanting evening.

    Again with a huge fireworks display presented by Gold & Diamond Source

    New Atmosphere Productions, the Gulf Coast's Premier Full Service Special Event Company who is responsible for Stage Light and Sound.

    Producer and Director Rainer Scheer.

    Buy tickets now at :
  • 25 Oct 2010 6:11 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Working Women of Tampa Bay is teaming up with members Cindy MacRitchie and Tonya Seay to host a special Fondue Night at the Carrollwood Melting Pot on Election Day, November 2nd.

    One lucky winner will get to come to the event for FREE!

    To enter to win, you must be a fan of Working Women of Tampa Bay, Keeping the Balance and Strategic Success Builders. Plus! Post a comment on this blog about why Working Women should exercise their right to vote.

    Guests who come to the event wearing their "I Voted" sticker will also get an extra raffle ticket for the prize drawing!

    We'll announce the winner on Friday! Good luck!

  • 21 Oct 2010 11:08 AM | Working Women (Administrator)

    Want to win (2) free tickets to see the musical hit comedy 9 to 5: The Musical? Working Women of Tampa Bay is teaming up with the The Straz Center for the Performing Arts to kick off their 2010-2011 Broadway season with a super fun giveaway.

    To be entered to win, you have to be a fan of Working Women of Tampa Bay and The Straz Center for the Performing Arts and post a comment on this blog about what you love about being a Working Woman!!

    Winner will be announced on Monday at 10am. The tickets are for Tuesday night's show. The winner's name will be placed at Will Call.

    By the way, Working Women of Tampa Bay can save 50% off select seats ! Use promo code DORALEE and save on tickets to the Tuesday or Wednesday evening performances in price levels 1, 2 or 3. Each purchase is limited to 4 discounted tickets. Offer not applicable to prior sales. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Subject to availability.

    Tickets can be purchased at the Straz Center Ticket Office, by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or visiting STRAZCENTER.ORG.

    You can learn more about 9 to 5: The Musical by visiting STRAZCENTER.ORG or by clicking here:


  • 12 Oct 2010 11:18 AM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Want to win tickets to the Halloween event of the year? Working Women of Tampa Bay is teaming up with Busch Gardens to give away (2) tickets to the Howl-O-Scream!

    It's 11th season has MORE haunted houses than ever before, ALL-NEW scare zones, Alone – a revolutionary idea in how guests experience haunted attractions – and a live concert each night of the event by the rock stars of horror – Sylvie and her killer band, My X.

    Howl-O-Scream is $74.95. You can cash in on discounts participating Publix Supermarkets and at for Passport Members and Florida Residents. Discounts are also available with promotional codes from select Pepsi, Domino’s Pizza, Applebee’s, Smoothie King and Muvico theaters.

    To enter to win - you must be a fan of Working Women of Tampa Bay and Howl-O-Scream and post a comment on this blog.

    Winner will be drawn at random on Friday, October 15th.

    Good Luck!

    PS: For an inside peek at this year's Howl-O-Scream fun, check out this photo gallery from Metromix.

  • 15 Feb 2010 10:26 PM | Working Women (Administrator)

    What’s your story? Do you have one? Is it consistent and relevant? Without having a strong consistent brand/story developed for your organization all of your other marketing campaigns will fall short. Many organizations become so excited about launching new and exciting marketing strategies they overlook the importance of building this important foundation first.

    Just like life, you need to know who you are before you can attract others. Building a brand is more about a snappy logo or catchy slogan. Building a brand is about telling your customer a story about who you are, what you believe in and why they should trust you. If you developed a strong business plan you should already have this information written down, if not follow these steps to get going in the right direction.

    1) What is the goal of your business/service/product? This should have nothing to do with sales or your personal profit/success. This should have everything to do with how your business can make your customer’s life better. Why in the world, with all the many products and services out there, would your customer benefit by choosing you?

    2) What makes you unique? Why would your customer choose you over the 15 zillion other ‘yous’ on the market?

    3) What personality do you want to convey? Make your business human. People like working with other people, not other things…why do you think everyone moans when they have to navigate through a computerized ‘customer service’ phone answering service, or stand yelling at the ’self-check-out’ computer at the grocery store. Person to person interaction is always a better experience. Develop a personality for your business and keep it consistent in everything you do. It could be your personality, it could be one you make up….have fun and always consider what will best appeal/resonate with your target audience.

    You can learn more about branding at this month's Girls Night Out on 2/25!

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