Devote Yourself to creating something that gives you purpose . . .

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."

Tuesdays with Morrie, author Mitch Albom

Friday, May 29, 2009

How to Spend Your Social Networking Budget

Women are extremely busy and need to spend their "time" resource wisely. When in business, women may wonder how to best invest their "time" resource to have the greatest "ROI" (return on investment) impact.

Based on a recent study conducted by iVilliage, BlogHer, and Compass Partners, the 2009 Women and Social Media Study reveals that women are twice as likely to go to blogs versus social media sites when seeking information, advice, and recommendations about products or services. Whereas, women are 50% more likely to turn to social media sites to maintain and build relationships with friends and family.

The 2009 Women and Social Media Study was conducted in March 2009 is available for download by accessing the link below: 2009 Women and Social Media Study

The contents of this report might provide some insight on how to "invest" the limited resource of time on the Internet. Don't forget to stay connected to this blog as a source for "information", "advice" and "recommendations"!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Rule of Reciprocity

As we grow our businesses (and/or network), it is important for each of us to create inter-active relationships with one another. Through interaction we will learn more about each other and ultimately become more supportive of one another in the process.

This morning I came across an article about blogging and driving traffic to one's site. This article was relevant for this newly formed West Michigan Women's network, but it is also relevant for our business growth too. Each of us has limited time from which to accomplish our goals. Hopefully one of the activities on our "to do" list is making connections with others.

In Lena West's article: The Reciprocity Rule, February 16, 2009 found on the blog "lip-sticking", she reports that "the whole social media movement is built upon the premise of reciprocity . . ."
She points out what people are wanting from others as they post stories on their blogs:
  1. Links
Without these three things, the blogger begins to feel like they are talking to themselves (a sure sign of insanity!)
As the article continues, Lena points out that if you want to acquire these three things, that you must give these things to others. She indicates that for every five posts on a blog, one should post a comment on someone else's blog.
This makes sense as this is just part of the discovery process where others will know you exist without having to search to find you.
I love this quote by Winston Churchill who said:
We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.
Making the connection for our businesses:

One of my goals is to create active relationships with other women on a daily basis. This is not just sitting behind my computer doing research and writing in a blog hoping that others will happen across something of interest.

My husband's mother is a great example of this. She hates technology, she doesn't send emails, or posts comments on blogs, but, she loves her friends. She has made it a goal in life to connect with others on a daily basis (she calls it her three good deeds). As a result, she has more friends in her 80's than I could ever wish to acquire in my lifetime. She leads by example and has such a wonderful giving spirit.

Two women in our network who support making personal connections are Margret Bazany and Lisa W. Lee. These two ladies wrote the book "Gift Letters: Writing to Family and Friends" . They also hold workshops to teach others how to make connections through personal notes and letters. The self-published book is available for $19.99 at

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fundraising Event Helps Women in Four Countries

One of the blessings of raising funds for micro-lending opportunities is actually being able to distribute those funds into the accounts of women businesses through KIVA and know that it will make a life changing impact on them, their children, and their communities. Today was a day of blessings as the 3 Degrees - Connected™ team contributed to four loans to help women in under-developed nations. I have included a brief note and picture about each of these businesses below.

Bujwaha Netgeta Rosemary Group located in Hoima, Uganda is raising money for used clothing sales. They have been in business for 3 years. The total loan requested was $450.00 with repayment terms of 11 months.

Yaa Yeboah located in Dorma Ahenkro, Ghana is raising money to buy more raw materials for her food vending business. She has been in business for 5 years. The total loan requested was $425.00 with repayment terms of 7 months.

Josephine Brown located in Malaubang, Ozamiz City, Philippines makes a living operating a business in the retail sector. She has been engaged in business for 3 years. The total loan requested was $125.00 with repayment terms of 8 months.

Meriga located in Adidogome, Togo earns income from selling charcoal and sweet potatoes (tubers). She has been in business 35 years and has asked for a loan to replenish her inventory. The total loan requested was $1,075.00 with repayment terms of 14 months.

As these loans are repaid, the money is returned in the form of credits into the 3 Degrees - Connected ™ lending team account for further distribution. Periodically you will see posts about the women we are helping.

If you want to see how good it feels to lend money to help women, please click on the link taking you into our lending team account. Set up your own loans through the team and see what impact we can make together. You will then have the right to select who you want to lend to as well as how to use the funds as they return to you.

For as little as $25.00 you can support a business through collective lending efforts. Today we chose to support 4 businesses rather than put all our money into one loan.

**We did not fully-fund these loans, but only a very small portion. It is our goal that we may be able to fully-fund a loan in the future.

Thank you for supporting our fundraising activities and happy lending!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Reading is Fundamental to Business Growth

Women's lives are pretty busy with responsibilities that include: work, family, spiritual growth, household maintenance, and the list goes on and on. It can be hard to carve out time for reading which I feel is essential to stay abreast of business strategies and new technologies. I usually operate in two modes: working and sleeping, and not too much of the latter as I age.

Who We Are:
In order to keep this forum (blog) as useful tool for those who choose to stay connected, I will try to incorporate stories that I find relevant and reliable to WBE (Women-Business Entrepreneurs). Most of what you may find here will be "secondary" research or previous published articles, more than "primary" research which is new information accumulated and written by one of us.

That being said, if anyone finds an article that they wish to share on this blog, please forward the information to me including the source and timing for the article. 3 Degrees - Connected™, as a network of women, can grow more when we begin to collaborate with one another and use our accumulated efforts to expand our knowledge.

Relevant News Story:
The following article was published by synergyblog in February 2009. It is entitled: KEYS TO THE GOLDEN DOOR: 10 Steps to Success for Women and Minorities in Business.

This is a very well-written article and provides an opportunity to evaluate your own business-building progress.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Are You Confused About . . . Social Media?

Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, Tumblr . . . have you been confused about which is the best social media site(s) to pursue? Attached is a Fox News Video where these social media platforms are being discussed. It is interesting to learn how these sites are being viewed by those who use them.

The following four social media platforms are discussed in the video above. For your convenience the definitions for these services has been copied from Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.

Facebook – created in 2003 is a free-access social networking website that is operated and privately owned. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with other people. People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.

The FriendFeed created in 2007 is a real-time feed aggregator that consolidates the updates from social media and social networking websites, social bookmarking websites, blogs and micro-blogging updates, as well as any other type of RSS/ Atom feed. Users can use this stream of information to create customized feeds to share (and comment) with friends.[

Twitter created in 2006 is a free social networking and micro-blogging service
that enables its users to send and read other users' updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length which are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers). Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow anybody to access them.

Tumblr created in 2007 by David Karp is a blogging
platform that allows users to post text, images, video, links, quotes, and audio to their tumblelog, a short-form blog. Users can "follow" other users and see their posts together on their dashboard. The service emphasizes customizability and ease of use.

We Are Not Alone

Did you know that there are 10.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. which generate $2.5 trillion in annual revenue?

In January - March 2009, StartupNation held a contest to name the top 200 leading mom businesses in the U.S.

StartupNation is a free service which was started by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs providing advice and making connections for women in business. They teamed up with VerticalResponse which is a provider of email and direct marketing services for businesses to help them manage their own marketing campaigns. These two ventures put together the contest to highlight these top 200 women's business.

This was not a contest that I was aware of until after the fact; however, by combing the web, we may be able to assist one another locate these type of services, and/or contests that can stimulate our business growth.

If any of you are currently using the Internet and have "stumbledupon" a good site or service, please be sure to post comments so that we all can become better informed.

A link to the post regarding the contest mentioned above is listed below. Since this was considered a first annual, maybe some of us would like to participate next year. Wouldn't it be great to boast of a local business-women who has been named on the top 200 list? It appears that there are about 5 Michigan businesses represented on the top 200 list. When browsing the winners, you may even find a business owner with whom you might want to network.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bringing Women Together for Growth and Jobs

The following article was posted authored by Michael Chin, KickApps and is very relevant in today's economy when we are all looking for ways to stimulate the economy through our business connections.

An organization called "Count Me In" which is a leading non-profit organization creating a community for women entrepreneurs to support one another has joined forces with "Kick Apps", a social media platform, and launched a new online community for women to compete in a race to reach revenue goals for their companies. This race is called "Make Me a Million Business Race or (M3RACE).

I don't know how many of you are projecting your 2009 revenue goals, but maybe you would find inspiration in joining a group allowing you the opportunity to compete for $100,000 cash prize.

I can only imagine that most women find it difficult to set personal business goals when growing their business; however, without goals to create the motivation to strive for something bigger or better, what will drive the forward motion. We all know that "FEAR" can create a roadblock to forward motion; setting goals might help us jump the hurdles that propel us toward our "first" finish line.

See the link below to this fascinating article and see if you want to join in to make 2009 revenue goals more achievable through networking.

Women Use Social Media

Reported on May 10th by Anita Campbell in Small Business Trends (

If anyone was wondering whether spending time on the Internet using Social Media tools is worthwhile, you may find the following article fascinating as it reveals that 42 Million U.S. Women use social media. This is approximately 53% of the 79 million adult women in the United States according to Ms. Campbell. If you are interested in finding the most effective way to use your time while engaging in Social Media, please click on the link and read the article below:

Friday, May 22, 2009

GOLD Buyer - Supports Women's Cause

#1 Buyers - Coin and Gold, J. Morgan, LTD has graciously offered to help the women of West Michigan through 3 Degrees - Connected™ support the cause of women empowering women a world away.

J. Morgan LTD at 20 Washington Avenue, Downtown Grand Haven buys Gold, Platinum and Silver in any condition.
  • jewelry
  • coins
  • old currency
  • bullion ingots and rounds
  • industrial scrap
  • sterlingware
  • dental gold
  • vintage watches
  • medals and tokens
  • diamonds
When you bring items into J. Morgan, LTD, please mention that you heard of their services through 3 Degrees - Connected™ and ask for John. He has offered to support our cause by giving 10% of the value to 3 Degrees - Connected™ to be invested in micro-lending to women-owned businesses a world away (reducing his profit/not yours). This is a very generous on-going gift to us for doing business with J. Morgan, Ltd.

Thanks to his generosity, we will be changing the economic conditions of women and families across the globe who are less fortunate than we are.

A Lending Page Has Been Created (KIVA)

A lending page has been created to support Women's Businesses a World Away . . .


I want to recruit you to my lending team, 3 Degrees - Connected™, on KIVA, a non-profit website that allows you to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur across the globe. You choose who to lend to and as they repay the loan, you get your money back.

If you join my lending team, we can work together to alleviate poverty. Once you're a part of the team, you can choose to have a future loan on Kiva "count" towards our team's impact. The loan is still yours and repayments still come to you, but you can also choose to have the loan show up in our team's collective portfolio, so our team's overall impact will grow.

3 Degrees - Connect™ is a women's organization which supports women's innovative interests in West Michigan. Read the post "Who Are We" to learn more about us. It is our interest to further the cause of women and children both here in West Michigan and abroad. Although you may select who you will lend to, we hope you will join us in supporting women-based businesses that desperately need your help.

If you are interested in learning more about what we are doing, please send an email to or read future posts tagged "KIVA" about the women we are helping worlds away.

Product Give Away (Kickoff Event)

Here are the winners of our Product Give Away at the kickoff event for 3 Degrees - Connected, on Wednesday evening, May 20, 2009:

Click on Image to Enlarge

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Successful Event

Wednesday evenings 3 Degrees - Connected™ kickoff event was a great success. We had between 35 and 40 participants take part in our first of three annual events to create a space for women to connect with women and stimulate business in West Michigan.

At this event we had twelve women's businesses represented by tables, two support organizations, a hostess, and one local businesses man (and his son) who conducted the gold for cash exchange which brought money to our cause to support women's businesses in underdeveloped regions of the world.

Companies represented in the first 3 Degrees - Connected™ Event were:
  1. Stock, LLC (Stacey Krastin and Sarah Kallio)
  2. Jenifer's Cakes (Jenifer Walsh)
  3. Elemental Design (Karyn Streeting)
  4. Jillyn Segroves Photography (Jillyn Segroves)
  5. Legacy Love Letters, LLC (Margret Bazany and Lisa W. Lee)
  6. Essential Designs (Lori DeVowe)
  7. JR Design (Janet Rohrs)
  8. Bennett IMPS, LLC (Becky Bennett)
  9. Freedom Wand, LLC (Deb Tacoma)
  10. Jennifer Morse Photography (Jennifer Morse)
  11. Grand Haven Chiropractic Clinic (Julie Cech)
  12. Geneva Girls Designs, LLC (Rhonda Geneva)
Stay tune to future posts tagged "The Women Behind the Business" to learn more about innovative and resourceful women of West Michigan to learn more about these ladies. Thank you to all who participated, we look forward to hearing about what positive results you receive from networking at this and future events.

The support organizations offering free advice included:
  • Innovation Works of West Michigan (Anne Sailers)
  • Muskegon Inventors Network
The volunteer hostess for our event was Joyce Aldridge.

The Gold Buyers for our kickoff event:
  • J Morgan, LTD (John and Grant Morgan)
John Morgan has graciously offered that anyone coming into his Jewelry store in downtown Grand Haven who mentions that they were referred to him through 3 Degrees - Connected, he will support our cause by writing a check to us for creating micro-loans to women's businesses in under-developed regions of the world. What was to be a one-time offer has turned into an ongoing commitment. (See post GOLD Buyer for more information about his services)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who Are We

3 Degrees - Connected™ is being created to join women together in our community. The initial setup of this network has the following aim:
  • stimulate economic growth for women-owned businesses,
  • connect women to useful resources for running their businesses,
  • create a portal of information that supports women in business,
  • tell stories about the women behind the local business creating a personal appeal
  • create a directory of women-owned businesses in our local community,
  • provide links to women-owned business websites or "blogs",
  • offer focus-group support to help make hard decisions about our products or services,
  • inform our community about upcoming events
  • create a forum for discussion about products or services
  • support women's causes
  • have fun running our business taking the edge off economic issues
As we come together, we will put together measurable goals that focus on the aims listed above. The plan is to create a non-profit organization providing opportunities for women to support one-another and further the development of women-owned businesses in our community.

Women-Owned Business Explosion

This story was reported by Business Week and is relevant to any women who may want to start her own business. Women are doing it and succeeding. Read on . . .

Business Week, May 19, 2009

'An Explosion' in Women-Owned Companies?

Despite daunting statisitics, resources and opportunities for female entrepreneurs are better now than ever, say experts

By Damian Joseph

Seven years ago, Nicole Loftus was entrenched in an $19 billion-a-year industry she felt was following an outmoded model. As a distributor of branded products, she served as an intermediary between companies that wanted products imprinted with their logos and the manufacturers that made them. Remarkably, neither side ever interacted. Loftus struck out on her own—against the advice of her family and then-husband—and began building what is now a multimillion-dollar company, Zorch International. The Chicago company offered an innovation to the branded-products industry's supply chain and changed how many corporations procure such products.

As a successful businesswoman, Loftus is defying statistics. According to Catalyst, a global nonprofit organization that tracks women in the workplace, only 28 of the 1,000 largest U.S. corporations have female CEOs. And women still earn 77¢ for each dollar made by a man, the Census Bureau reports. To that point, the first legislation President Barack Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a salvo against wage discrimination against working women that was meant to counter a 2007 Supreme Court ruling.

It can be especially challenging for women to establish companies seeking a broad reach, such as those that provide services for corporations—and securing financial backing can be nearly impossible. In 2008 only 6.8% of venture capital went to companies founded by women, according to Dow Jones VentureSource (NWS), a database that covers the venture-capital industry. Just one of five U.S. compamies with annual revenue of $1 million or more is owned by a woman, according to the Center for Women's Business Research. Just 3% of women-owned companies ever reach the $1 million mark, compared with 6% owned by men, the center says. "It was an absolute, 100% shock to me that there was still disparity between men and women in the business world," Loftus says.

That's not to say there's been no progress. Amy Millman, president and founder of Springboard Enterprises, has been connecting entrepreneurial women and investors since the early 1980s. Millman predicts that in the next four to five years there will be "an explosion" of women founding companies in science-based sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, software, and clean energy. "Things that are cutting-edge—there are a lot more women in these fields now," she says.

Loftus finds it unnerving that so many people still think in terms of companies being "women-owned." Often, she says, corporations focus too much on who owns Zorch. They assume it's a tiny outfit, unable to provide a high volume of services, even though Zorch expects sales to leap to $36 million this year and top $100 million by 2011.

fastest-growing company in Chicago

Loftus started the company herself with the aid of angel investors, bank loans, and the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. In 2008, Crain's Chicago Business ranked Zorch the fastest-growing company in Chicago, and Inc. magazine ranked it the eighth-fastest-growing in America. Inc. also ranked Zorch the country's No.1 company owned by a woman for its astounding 10,822% growth rate from 2005-2007. Loftus says the best advice she can give to aspiring women entrepreneurs is, don't take money from investors until you really need to. "Don't be afraid to not have money," she says. "You don't need money to serve a customer." Before Zorch, if a company wanted, say, Bic ballpoint pens with its logo printed on them for advertising or promotional purposes, it would do business with a distributor such as Corporate Express or Adco Marketing. The distributor would contact Bic, negotiate the deal, assist in the design details, charge a fee—and the two parties doing business would never speak. Loftus erased the middle man. Essentially, Zorch brought manufacturers to the table to speak directly with the corporations seeking their products. Zorch is essentially a portal that handles all sales and resulting transactions. Loftus says distributors weren't eliminated earlier because "when they got wind that one manufacturer was selling directly, they'd get together and blackball it—there are a lot of distributors, but it's a small world."

Zorch found a niche serving extremely large corporations that smaller distributors don't like dealing with. Loftus is fine with smaller profit margins if the volume's high. The company has worked with heavyweights such as AT&T (T), BP (BP), and Citigroup (C) in 120 different countries. Loftus says Zorch is thriving despite the recession, because it saves companies money.
The biggest challenge for women in starting succesful companies, Millman says, is they need to become more aggressive and less risk-averse. This would include women more confidently marketing their expertise and forging ahead with potentially valuable business ideas despite market conditions. "The resources are actually more plentiful and it's much cheaper to start a business now than a decade ago," she says.

Joseph is an innovation and design writer for BusinessWeek, based in the Chicago bureau.

Monday, May 18, 2009


A friend sent this post to me and I felt that it was appropriate to share with you. I didn't write this article, but it is inspiring and this is an excellent example of women empowering women & girls.

by Cynthia Kersey
The author of Unstoppable and Unstoppable Women, Cynthia is raising $1m to build schools in Africa as part of her work in the Unstoppable Foundation.

The best way to predict the future is to create it. ~ Peter Drucker

If today were my last day on Earth and I could share 500 words of brilliance with the world, here are the important things I'd want to pass along to others...

I've been writing about Unstoppable people for well over a decade and what I've found is that living an unstoppable life always involves giving. People who give and are involved in a purpose that is greater than themselves are the happiest people and live the richest and most meaningful lives imaginable.
I have definitely experienced that in my own life and have found that nothing that I do gives me greater joy than when I am in service to others. I've been blessed to be a part of many service projects around the world and in November, 2006, I had an experience that has taken my calling to do this work to a whole new level.

In November, 2006, I went to Africa with 40 women from North America to attend a first-ever Grassroots African Women's Conference in Bondo, Kenya. We were greeted by 440+ rural East African Women who were there for the conference as well and each night we laughed, danced and sang together as we connected with each other as sisters.

During the day, we attended sessions and listened to the powerful stories of these courageous women who shared how they were dealing with fundamental issues like making sure their children are fed, getting clean water for their families to drink, preserving food to get them through times of drought, treatment and prevention for Malaria and HIV, taking care of orphans with HIV, and providing an education for their children so they could create a hopeful future for their families.

These women never get a day off from hauling water and firewood, cooking, cleaning, and the drudgery of daily living and never travel more than 10 miles beyond their village. Yet, here they were, many of them traveling great distances to attend this conference to share their stories and take home solutions that could help them create a more optimistic future for their families.
I was inspired by the women's optimism and the commitment to lift themselves and their communities out of the cycle of extreme poverty. They experience daily challenges that I could not even imagine and their stories profoundly impacted me. I took home the heart of these East African women promising to do something to support them in changing the future for themselves and for their children.

The is the result of that promise. I have learned that the key to helping these women and children will come not from waiting for the government to step in and do something. It will come when caring and committed people join together to provide aid, resources, and equipment DIRECTLY to the people who are already making a difference on the ground.

How can you use your unique voice and talents to heal this planet? When we collectively bring our gifts and our talents to the world, we will create a world of love, compassion and power that this planet has not yet seen. And when we experience the true miracle of giving, both the giver and the receiver are healed.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kickoff Event - May 20, 2009

Kickoff Event

Date: May 20, 2009 (Wednesday)

Time: 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Location: Spring Lake Presbyterian Church
760 E. Savidge Road,
Spring Lake, MI

Meet the resourceful women of West MI who are trying to stimulate the local economy through their innovative businesses.

Network and learn about local organizations that can support you to set up a business.

Exchange – business cards and brochures to let others know about you.

Receive Cash – for your old gold and silver jewelry and coins (J. Morgan LTD, a local licensed jeweler will appraise your pieces and give you cash for its value).

Stimulate Interest in West MI women-owned businesses – learn how we plan to use social media to stimulate interest in our local area.

Support a Cause – help women in under-developed regions of the world by making a small donation ( - micro-lending) – “pay it forward”

Participate in a drawing to receive a one of several innovative products developed right here in West Michigan at the end of the evening.

Need more information?

Call: Rhonda Geneva at 866 587-2963