Petite Can Mean Powerful

Deborah Boswell, long-time President of Professional Speech Services of Alabama, spoke at last week’s Intentional Tuesdays event about the power of your voice. As a woman who measures over five feet tall on a good day, I was ready for this presentation with my trusty pen to take notes. Deborah mentioned some key takeaways that you probably haven’t heard before. Here’s the rundown:

  • Focus on your breath. You don’t have to scream to be loud! Try to talk from your diaphragm instead of your throat or chest to command the room.
  • When you’re nervous, you probably have shallow breath. Take some deep inhales and exhales before a presentation. Personally, I listen to a Lizzo song or some words of encouragement from Brene Brown. You can view some more mindfulness resources here.
  • First impressions count. Think about your posture and what you’re wearing. I have been moved mid-presentation because multiple people thought I was breaking out in hives. Turns out, I was just nervous, so now I wear a turtleneck.
  • Be concise. No one likes a long meeting that could have been summed up in a quick email. Executives don’t have a lot of time on their hands, and the average person’s attention span, according to research by Microsoft, is shorter than eight seconds. That’s less than a goldfish.
  • BLUF. Don’t bluff, but keep the Bottom Line Up Front. Capture their attention at the beginning so they stay with you for important information.
  • Conjunction junction, what’s your function? Diluting clarity, according to Deborah. Break up your sentences.
  • If you are the expert, behave like the expert! Stay confident; you’ve got this.

Wish you hadn’t missed Deborah’s presentation? Want to watch it again? Check out our new Youtube channel for her presentation and others!

What’s New With Momentum?

If you’re anything like me, your email, Instagram, and Facebook are overflowing with information, especially since the start of COVID-19. Our mission at Momentum is to advance equity for women in leadership, so we’ve put together some additional resources for you in light of the challenges you and your community may be experiencing. Please feel free to reach out to our staff about any of the programs listed below.

  • Mentoring! Momentum is excited to offer opportunities to women in Alabama to be either a mentor or a mentee. This is a great chance to grow your network and build a meaningful professional relationship. The commitment is only for six months, so you can focus on one specific skill or topic. Reach out to our Mentoring Coordinator, Mindy Santo, for more information.
  • inTENtional Tuesdays! We only have two sessions left in series. Next week on July 7, Deborah Boswell, President of Professional Speech Services of Alabama, will discuss the language of power. Join us Tuesday, July 21, to hear from Rachel Fry, Clinical Psychologist at Fry Health, speak about building your personal compass.
  • Wellness Wednesdays! Sad that inTENtional Tuesdays is ending? We’ve got a new series coming up. We’ll be hosting experts in emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Stay tuned for more updates!
  • Resources! In the past several months, we’ve written several blog posts about blogs, podcasts, books, etc. that address issues like COVID-19 and racial injustice in America. There is now a page on the website where you can access all of these resources and more.

If you have any suggestions for great books, podcasts, and artists related to health, COVID-19, and race in America, please comment below!

#BlackVeterinarians Initiative

Though AAC’s mission is to educate and advocate for the health and well-being of assistance animals, as a company, it is dedicated to advocating and pursuing equality and justice. 

Founder, Rhesa Houston DVM, states, “As conscientious members of society who understand the long history of racism and the value of social change and social justice movements, we support and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement. We are committed to doing our part in educating, promoting, and advocating for social justice within Black and Brown communities as well as other marginalized groups.”   

Veterinary medicine is one of the largest fields that lacks diversity. In an effort to raise awareness of this lack of diversity, Dr. Houston began the #BlackVeterinarians initiative, where she will give black and brown veterinarians a platform to speak about their experiences and tell their stories on being an underrepresented minority in the veterinary field. She hopes to raise awareness to the younger generations as well and encourage them to pursue veterinary medicine, no matter their skin color or background. 

Assistance Animals Consulting is a one-of-a-kind consulting firm of licensed veterinarians who provide education and training on healthy, safe environments for assistance animals and their owners in order to make the animal-human bond successful. Dr. Houston founded the company after her father was prescribed an assistance animal by his cardiologist. To her surprise, he was not given education or the recommended resources needed when prescribed an assistance animal. This realization shed light on the gap that needed to be bridged between assistance animals, their owners, and doctors and thus created Assistance Animals Consulting. 

Each week, Assistance Animals Consulting will feature a different story that highlights the need for diversity in veterinary medicine and speaks to the experience of black and brown veterinarians. You can find these stories on AAC’s social media pages, as well as their blog which are linked below.

Blog | Facebook | Instagram

Leveraging LinkedIn: Tips from Social U

CEO, Social U

We had an Intentional Tuesday session with Caryn Terradas this week on how to leverage LinkedIn to boost your professional brand. Caryn is a social media guru and owner of a digital marketing company, Social U.

Caryn shared so many highly practical tips, it was easy to leave with lots of action items. We’ve recorded the whole session and will be posting here, but if you just want a few of the highlights, here are our top five take-aways:

 

1. Update Your Profile

Use an updated, professional headshot. Edit your LinkedIn url so people can find you easily; if you have a common name, try adding your city or your position to your name (e.g. Christin Johnson_CPA_Birmingham.) Keep your Summary to a few short sentences, with your main “selling point” in the first line. Get more detailed in your work experience, listing out each position you held in a company to show progression. Don’t forget to list volunteer experience! Get about 10 good recommendations; the higher profile the recommender, the better.

2. Connect with Other Users

Start with people you really do know. Look at the suggestions LinkedIn proposes (connections of your connections) and add the ones you know or would like to meet. Get to 250 as quickly as possible. Connect with thought leaders in the Groups you join. Once you hit 500 connections, LinkedIn just displays “500+ connections.”

3. Join Groups

Speaking of groups, join a few. People are not using the Groups in LinkedIn as much as they used to, but if you can find a few active Groups in your field, it’s a good way to show your professional interests and to expand your network beyond the local scene.

4. Post Content

Ideally you want to generate content on LinkedIn about 20 times per month. It’s easier than it sounds. You can share content from others, post links you spot elsewhere on social media, comment on current events (diplomatically), post events, and share volunteer opportunities. Make your posts part of your daily routine, and post during business hours. A good habit is to post first thing, upon your return from lunch, or when you need an afternoon break.

5. Use Graphics

The more visually appealing you can make your posts, the better off you’ll be. Canva is the free, easy to use tool Caryn suggested for making professional looking graphics quickly. Canva has social media templates that are already correctly sized, and hundreds of royalty free photos. She also suggested Unsplash for even more royalty free photo choices.

Connect with Momentum! (Okay, so that’s #6)

 

 

Momentum has an active LinkedIn page, so please connect with us! We would also love for you to connect with our team:

April Benetollo, CEO

Andrea McCaskey, Director of Programs

Mindy Santo, Mentoring Coordinator

Katherine Thrower, Logistics Manager

Tina Upshaw, Director of Operations

8 Black-Owned Businesses to Support in Birmingham

One simple way to promote diversity and inclusiveness in our community is to support Birmingham’s local black-owned businesses. Here are eight businesses run by women in the Birmingham area you can support today. 

Food

Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co.

Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. puts a fun spin on a classic snack. Tanesha Sims-Summers, founder and CEO, describes her company as being, “…known for PoPing addictive handcrafted kettle corn. All of our flavors are lightly sweet and lightly salted to give each flavor a unique and distinctive taste. We strive to create an experience that families, friends, PoPcorn and kettle corn lovers will never forget. We keep it interestingly different! We love PoPping up at community events, special events, weddings, corporate and university events, birthday parties or on your couch for a Friday Movie Night! It’s Not Just Popcorn with Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co., It’s FUN, FRESH & FESTIVE; from the hand crafted flavors to our commitment to PoPpin with a Purpose with our community partners, our team is always finding ways to make the world a sweeter place one kernel at a time.”

Where: 5363 1st Ave N Birmingham, Al 35212

Contact: (205) 915-2528

WebsiteFacebook

CakEffect

Photo by Mike Tomberlin, Alabama NewsCenter

The owner/operator and master cake artist of CakEffect, Komeh O. Davis, has a true passion for art that spills over into her cake creations. She describes her company as being, “…the little cake shop with a grand effect. We specialize in custom designer cakes for many events or occasions. With a background in visual arts, canvas art is transformed to cake. All cakes are baked to order and to the customer’s specifications. CakEffect specializes in sculpted two-dimensional and three-dimensional cakes. CakEffect provides beautiful, delicious cakes to many satisfied customers each year. We have an association of artists and bakers who are capable of meeting personal and corporate needs. Our deliciously moist, artistic, and elegantly designed cakes will be remembered by you, your family and friends as a wonderful touch to your event.”

Where: 1021 Brock’s Gap Parkway Suite 109 Hoover, Al. 35244

Contact: (205) 803-5669

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Drexell & Honeybee’s

Drexell & Honeybee’s is a donation only restaurant with the mission of, “we feed the need.” They serve hot plates to everyone whether they can afford it or not. The owner, Lisa Thomas-McMillan says that, “food is about the joy of serving others.” There isn’t a price tag on any of their meals or even suggested prices. Customers only pay what they can whether that be a small or large donation or even just a thank you. When you enter their restaurant, “you’ll walk past booths and four-tops full of cornbread, fried chicken, and collard greens.” With food this tasty, you’ll find yourself craving it every day.

Where: 109 Lee Street Brewton, AL 36426

Contact: (251) 727-2411

Website | Facebook

Services

The Curated Arch

The Curated Arch is Birmingham’s premier permanent makeup studio. The owner, Kim Thompson, says, “my mission at The Curated Arch is to help women feel their most beautiful! I don’t take this lightly. It’s truly an honor to work with every single client.” They specialize in lashes, brows, and skincare, relying on over twenty years of experience and training. Why choose her services? Her “method and tools have been meticulously designed and redesigned to aid their trained artists in producing very precise hairstrokes, perfect symmetry, and a beautiful eyebrow shape that goes with the natural shape of their client’s face and bone structure.” They also choose to use products with great ingredients that won’t harm your skin!

Where: Inside Phenix Salon Suites at 709 Montgomery Highway Suite 101 Birmingham, AL 35216

Contact: (205) 533-1726

Website | Facebook | Instagram

SisterGolf

Photo by Eric & Jamie Gay

SisterGolf not only teaches women how to play golf, but it also instructs women on how to use their knowledge of the game to their advantage in their professional lives. The owner, Shella Sylla, says, “The mission of SisterGolf is to expose and educate female business professionals on how they can use golf as a tool for developing mutually beneficial business relationships, and creating connections for professional advancement in the Corporate workplace.” What a great way to multitask!

You can schedule your next appointment with SisterGolf here.

Where: 2539 John Hawkins Parkway, #329 Hoover, AL 35244

Contact: (205) 564-2040

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Valia Rose Events

Valia Rose Events is a full service event planning company that specializes in events from weddings to corporate functions. The owner, Joanna Sheppard, says, “Valia Rose Events creates custom, seamless and sophisticated event planning experiences for each of our clients. Because we forge a bond with our clients, The details cultivated into our designs reflect the personal styles of our clients. Every logistical element serves a purpose for a celebration that speaks to you, your family and your guests for generations to come. Valia Rose Events provides a high touch collaborative approach to the planning process. Our distinctive full service planning , design and management services guarantee a perfect event production.”

Expanding on the background of her business, Sheppard explains, “Planning an intimate event for a dear friend as a hobby later resulted in the conception of Valia Rose Events. The organic growth emerged from the desire to create magical moments, enlightened guest experiences and memories to last a lifetime. There is love poured into every Valia Rose fete that attracts clients worldwide.”

Where: 240 Oxmoor Circle Suite 106 Homewood, AL 35209

Contact: (205) 421-9656

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Retail

Yogi DaDa

With southern roots and a northern upbringing, Yolanda Carter, best known as Yogi, has been exposed to many different cultures and art forms that can be seen throughout her work. Yogi DaDa specializes in hand painted wooden earrings, but since establishing her business in 2012, her art has expanded into various forms such as canvas pieces, prints, custom ties, cufflinks and more. In addition to her art, Carter is also a poet, Emmy nominated vocalist, sign language artist, public speaker, teacher, and Djembe (African drum) player. To say she’s well-rounded would be an understatement. 

Contact: (205) 266-4921

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Janelle’s Attic Gold

The old saying that, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” was taken to heart by Janelle Sweeney as she created Janelle’s Attic Gold, a retail store where you can find all things vintage including clothing, furniture, and decor. Each item she finds has a story from the past, waiting for you to give it new life. Her eclectic assortment will add charm to any space or wardrobe. 

Do you get overwhelmed sifting through large thrift and antique stores? Janelle has already done the hard work for you with organized selections of dishware, dresses, furniture, and more!

Where: 1904 2nd Ave N, Bessemer, AL 35020

Contact: (205) 213-2858

Facebook | Instagram

Lead Through This

April Benetollo, CEO

We’ve all been through a lot in recent months. A global pandemic, worldwide economic instability, and an explosion of outcries against racial injustice. We stand with those outraged at the killing of George Floyd and the countless other Black lives lost to racial discrimination and oppression.

Your families, coworkers, and friends are looking to you right now for reassurance, and that’s a lot of pressure. If you are feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, confused, angry–we are here for you. We may not have the answers, but we will listen. We will provide support and connection: Contact Us.

As an organization, our core mission is to advance women in leadership—across race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, and political affiliation. As leaders in our state, it is up to each one of us to check our own biases, to call out injustice when we see it, and to advocate for people of color. We call on the women of Momentum to lead by example, and to navigate these uncertain times with empathy, reason, and resolve.

In the coming weeks Momentum will share, via blog and social media, some resources, volunteer opportunities, and specific actions you can take to support girls and women of color. By standing together for justice and equality, by taking actions to promote diversity and inclusive communities, and by respecting a wide range of viewpoints, we can be tremendous agents of change.

In the words of Andrea McCaskey, “you were created for a time such as this.” We are the women the world needs now. 

Lean on one another. Lead with us.

April Benetollo
CEO
Momentum

Planning During a Pandemic

In mid-March, Momentum hosted its biennial conference at the BJCC. As reports of COVID-19 were being heard around the world, Momentum’s 2020 Vision Conference ended up being the last major event held at the BJCC before they closed due to health concerns. It could not have been pulled off without GoPro Solutions, which was founded by Jennifer Gowers in 2007. She and her team, who work conveniently around the corner from Momentum’s office, worked for months to make sure our vision was carried out successfully. I Zoomed with Gowers to learn how their business is adapting in light of COVID-19.

Believe it or not, event planners are really good at planning for everything. When I called Gowers, I imagined that she would talk about all the events she would have had to cancel and frantically reschedule. Although she said some events and weddings have been postponed, she calmly explained how many of their events have gone virtual. Furthermore, because they plan so far in advance, they have more flexibility in restructuring.

GoPro was also ahead of the curve in working online. Gowers explained that her staff knew how to work remotely before quarantine, so she already had strategies to effectively get things done. She recommends that people designate a space for work in their home, not try to do chores during work hours, and focus on mind management. As an avid podcast listener, she explained that women like life coach Brooke Castillo encourage her to stay positive and mindful.

Looking toward the future, Gowers thinks that people will be more excited to come to events and overall attendance rates will rise. However, she thinks networking won’t be the same, and online platforms will expand. While online events are the most safe, she explained that “online is not the answer for everything”, so some gatherings will have to wait.

As a small business owner in Birmingham, she wants people to try to support local businesses instead of ordering straight from large corporations like Amazon. Gowers is optimistic about Birmingham’s future, citing the city’s unique resilience and genuineness. Although we may not be able to greet each other in person, she says Birmingham residents “know how to hug each other from afar”.

The Great Equalizer

Ashley Gann, Chief Meteorologist for CBS-42, business owner, public speaker, mother of 3.

As a full-time Chief Meteorologist and a parent, in the blink of a pandemic eye I also became a full-time teacher, cook, housekeeper, gardener, and field trip organizer. My home has become the school, playground, office, and TV set. I’m a planner and a crisis communicator by trade. I forecast future weather for crying out loud, but I never saw this coming. No one else saw it coming either, which is why this global pandemic has become a great equalizer.

While there is much uncertainty amidst all of the change, there is also so much opportunity. We have adapted to new workflows, processes, systems. Some have had to make a complete career pivot. Some have taken on delivery jobs just to make ends meet. From the C-Suite to the frontlines, the shutdown and social distancing have affected everyone. For some, the change may feel like a small ripple. For others, more like a tidal wave.

Let’s get one thing clear…Depending on the plates that you’re spinning, some days are probably a haze. You’re struggling to hang on between the homeschooling or care-taking, the house chores and work responsibilities. The cooking, the cleaning, the disinfecting– it all piles up. It’s a lot. In that, there will be things that go back to normal soon, like kids going back to school. We will be able to send spouses out of the house to run errands again. Our walls won’t seem to be pushing in on us as much as we move forward.

As we emerge on the other side, I do hope businesses take a hard look at how this pandemic has forced change. I believe this could open up doors for women by creating more flexibility and empathy in the workplace. This may be a solution for retaining talent long term. For women, climbing the corporate ladder often is stymied due to a lack of options and being forced to choose between personal priorities (children, spouse, aging parents…) and a promotion. Remote-working strategies can produce greater productivity, create long term loyalty, and pave the way for future growth. This is a game changer!

In this global pandemic, the rigid walls of corporations have had to morph into malleable support systems for their employees. We’ve all gotten to see inside each other’s world. I think we’ve been more honest with one another and we’ve seen more authentic bonds being made, because it’s hard to ignore the golden retriever stealing the show on your daily Zoom call from home. We’ve allowed for grace and we’ve been able to see each person in a new way. I believe this could be a defining moment in how we move forward in retaining the best and the brightest in business. We are redefining what collaboration, communication, and productivity look like.

We are proving, through these new work models, that we can have our cake and eat it too. We can attend high powered meetings one minute, while scrubbing dishes and teaching our children the next. I have come to realize a woman can be as successful in her office with a view as she can be at her dining room table covered with crayons. The view may look different, but giving women choices on how they take flight will give them the greatest chance at soaring as high as they can. We must not dismiss these work from home changes as temporary, but see how that can radically redefine workplace culture and ultimately attract the very best to your brand and business. Giving someone options and flexibility is a tremendous value-add for every organization.

Upward Resources – 2020

 

In order to get the maximum benefit out of each Upward session, you will need to complete a “pre-work” assignment. Each month the assignment will be posted here. Some assignments must be turned in to Momentum. Others are prep-work for the class and should be printed, completed, and added to your binder. Specific instructions will be given for each assignment.


 

March Session

Momentum Conference Vision 2020

All conference information and session handouts are still available through the Guidebook mobile app.

Go to the Session Tracks in the menu, select a category, select a session, and look for the handout after the session description and speaker info.

 

 

Each of our keynote speakers has great information, video, books, and other resources  on their respective websites.


April Session

Learning and Development “Selfies”: Understand Your Purpose and Take Control of Your Career Development

Facilitator: Dawn Burke

The concept of “career” has changed dramatically in the modern workplace. Careers are no longer a lifetime pursuit of one distinct career path, but rather a pursuit of many talents, skills and roles, resulting in more fulfilling work.

In this interactive session you’ll learn:

  • What research teaches us about the importance of continuous career development
  • How to create a written career development plan incorporating “purpose” in your planning
  • How to overcome obstacles and accelerate your career development

Recorded ZOOM Session (Dawn’s content starts at 19:00 min)

Dawn’s wrap up (the last 20 minutes)

Session Handouts:


May Session

Working in Teams

Facilitators: Andrea McCaskey, April Benetollo, and Momentum Alumnae Jeannine Bailey,  Kathy Boswell, Leigh Davis, Elizabeth Hamilton, and Christy Thomas. 

In this session we tackle building trust on teams, working through conflict, unwritten rules, managing up, remote teamwork, giving and receiving feedback, and working across multiple generations. The format is via Zoom with breakout discussions led by Momentum Alumnae.

Recommended reading:

 

 

Decoding the CARES Act

Lauren Millard, CDFA
Morgan Stanley

Many small businesses are under extreme financial pressure as a result of the shelter in place order across the state. Though many of those restrictions are easing, the economic restart will be slow. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s order to lift some restrictions still includes a “safer at home” message for employers. Restaurants are still restricted to deliver and curb-side service, and salons, barber shops, entertainment venues, and health clubs must remain closed.

Congress passed additional funding to the Corona Virus Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act this week. There are temporary provisions within the CARES Act that could positively impact cash on hand and reduce taxable income, specifically deferral of employer SS taxes and expansion of losses. These are in addition to the loans and enhanced unemployment benefits available to small businesses. The Act is cumbersome to comb through, so here’s a resource to help make sense of it from your friends at Morgan Stanley.