The Toughest Lesson I Learned in B School

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One of the hardest lessons I learned at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management through the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Family Program is that it’s always going to be tough to discern when to quit and when to continue.

I remember we had multiple entrepreneurs come in and speak about how much adversity they faced as they were starting and running their companies. It was like every time the entrepreneur would get a little traction, he or she would get whacked in the face by something new. This person, in turn, had to be gritty to push forward with their idea.

As an entrepreneur now, I have taken those lessons and have lived them. It was so much different hearing their stories as opposed to living them. Some days I wonder why I ever decided to go on this stupid path. It makes me angry that I can’t just be content showing up to the same place over and over again, years and years on end, and collecting a paycheck. I wish I were someone who was avaricious, money motivated or longed for stability. That’s not who I am. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t take on a job where I was able to apply my talents to drive a mission that I’m passionate about forward. I would. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t take on nearly any job should I need to do so to take care of myself. But it’s not where I would long to be. I would want something more and my heart would feel unsettled.

Social causes make me feel settled. Phoning it in doesn’t.

But when these entrepreneurs were talking about this in business school, their lessons were just words. Now, however, it’s an entirely different story. Their lessons became a forewarning: this is what you’re going to long to you. You’re going to be stubborn and want to work for yourself or you’re going to need to find a cause worth suffering for or you won’t be happy.

That’s a tough lesson and one that I never before fathomed before business school.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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Fear and Entrepreneurship

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Fear is one of the hardest things I have had to get used to in entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, I constantly have to face my fears. In business school at Syracuse University I learned that people fear anything that upsets the status quo and there’s always pushback.

As a business owner, I’ve learned I have many fears that I am overcoming simply out of necessity.

I detest confrontation but when you manage a business, there’s bound to be friction somewhere. I don’t always handle it with as much grace and dignity as I’d like but I am learning not to run from it.

I’ve had to learn that with confrontation, I have had to stop assuming that the conversation is going to erupt into some terrible argument. In most cases I try not to look at the other side as an adversary, but rather someone who can help me solve a problem and I just need their buy in to get it right.

However, I have also learned that I have to stand up to bullies, too and I am amazed at how many bullies are out there.

I have learned that most bullies count on the fact that you’re not going to stick up for yourself for fear of retaliation or making the situation worse, when in fact, most of the time when you stick up for yourself nothing happens. It’s all a game of bluster. I’ve learned too that bullies try to make you feel guilty and responsible for their actions and many people fear that they have done something to trigger the event. But most times, that’s not so.

I have also learned that there are a surprising amount of people out there who will cut your throat for a penny, but there are also countless, random individuals out there who are willing to help on your entrepreneurial journey. There’s no surefire way to figure out who is going to be outstanding and who is going to stand in your way, but it’s worth the risk to find out.

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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If You Don’t Come to Terms With Failure Now You’ll Hate Yourself Later

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In business school at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University through the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Family program, I learned I’d have to get comfortable failing. They told us how most businesses wouldn’t make it five years. Someone will craft an idea and before it’s out of its infancy it’ll die.

That’s a thought you have to get comfortable with in regards to entrepreneurship. Chances are you’re going to make a lot of bonehead moves. Why? Because even with Google at our disposal and even when you take time to really think things through be it through meditation, decision making trees, research and more, there are always nuances you can’t control. Or sometimes you’re just having an off day and on those days you still have to perform; you just perform sub par. One of my professors, Neile Godfrey, told the class some hysterical stories about failure including getting her dress caught in her underpants while on her way to a business meeting. I watched a video of Carly Fiorna, CEO of Hewlett Packard talk about how she once had to walk across a stripper’s stage to get to a business meeting.

We all fail. Even the best of them.

So to celebrate a lesson I learned in school and am now living through entrepreneurship, I’d like to share a couple of knucklehead moves I’ve made and what I learned from them.

Today I accidently hit the check box in Mailchimp and auto tweeted countless fundraiser tweets and this past month I got a lousy haircut right before I was asked to model for White House Black Market through Bent Creek.

In these two situations I learned sometimes tiny little errors don’t really matter and most people won’t judge you as harshly as you do yourself.

Those are tiny failures but I have experienced some gigantic ones, too. I have learned the hard way that if I make excuses, accept things for what they are instead of trying to change, remain disappointed in myself or get too comfortable where I am I know I am heading for a big failure.

I have learned as a consequence, not to make excuses. That’s one thing I feel is a strength of mine. I don’t make excuses. I fess up and take my lumps. Sometimes the lumps are gigantic. Once it cost me nearly $40,000. But I fessed up and I took the financial hit and the lesson from it. I made a mistake. I’ll know better next time. It’s okay to make new mistakes, just try not to make the same one over and over again.

I failed when I couldn’t get a former CEO to understand that someone in his environment was toxic and as a consequence, he and I don’t have a relationship anymore and I trusted his advice. But I failed, I think mainly out of fear, and I learned from it.

Last year I failed in that I was so disappointed in myself, I couldn’t stand it. I think part of it was grief and healing from surgery and the other part was that I was disappointed that my entire life changed and I could do nothing to save it, though I tried. But through this I have learned that once I let go of everything and stopped feeling disappointed that life didn’t unfurl as I thought it should, I realized just how lucky I had become.

Finally, I made the mistake of getting too comfortable with success. I went gangbusters in a stroke of serendipity and thought running a business would always be that easy. So if I am honest with myself, I slacked off and as a result, sales slumped for a time being. I failed. But I learned.

So today I have failed in a small way and that’s okay because we all fail. I’ll just try to fail better and differently the next time around because I still have the hope that sometimes the mistakes are really successes in disguise.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

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Tough Choices

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At business school through the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Program at the Whitman School of Management through Syracuse University, one of our professors, Mike Haynie, taught us that as business leaders we’d have to make tough choices.

He used the example of Fat Tire beer and how the company had to decide if they wanted to keep their culture or sell their product to a larger distributor and manufacturer to the tune of a couple of million.

Dr. Haynie let us think about it. He let us discuss why we’d make one decision over the other.

It was good practice in the classroom to see how people respond to seemingly unpredictable choices that come up in the course of a business’ history.

I’m faced with one of those unpredictable choices right now.

The nuances of the circumstance, I’ll keep private, but I will share with you the internal struggle I am facing. It centers on accountability or grace.

I have to decide if I will hold one person accountable for his or her actions or if I will extend grace. Frankly, I wish this were a choice I didn’t have to face at all. Perhaps the owners of Fat Tire felt the same way when they were approached with the opportunity to sell their company and dismantle their culture or save their culture but at a financial loss. Maybe they didn’t want to make the choice at all. Maybe they wish they could have both. Maybe they wished that there were one person they could call on the phone and know that the answer on the other side were going to be the right one. I don’t know. I’m speculating. But I know I feel that way.

Previously I have erred on the side of grace. After trying to rectify a situation multiple times and multiple ways if I couldn’t change it I would let it slide. But this case, I can’t seem to find the same grace within me. I want accountability for this person. I just don’t know what it’s going to cost the company. And that’s a tough place to be.

But I learned in business school that we, as entrepreneurs and business leaders, will be faced with tough choices. We will have to make “either/or decisions,” and not “and” decisions at times.

So I ask you, the budding entrepreneur and business student, how to do make decisions? More importantly what methodology do you use to make impossible decisions?

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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The Secret of Fair Market Value and Social Capital in Entrepreneurship

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I’ve decided to embrace my inner bitch.

Here’s why:

A few weeks ago I was sitting down for a negotiation and the company asked me to throw out a ballpark figure of how much it was going to cost them for me to perform a service. In business school at Syracuse University I learned that the price for something is whatever the market will bear so instead of making the first offer, I let them. They waffled. I told them to think about it and let me know and we could negotiate from there. After a few moments they tossed out an obscenely low figure. I asked about terms and they said it was firm and had to be their way.

Now I learned a long time ago that everything is up for debate—even the things people claim are non-negotiable. Those spots are often the areas that have the most wiggle room.

I countered, offered the value I brought to the company and sat silent for a long period of time.

I was amazed at how quickly the company started touting the value of what I brought. They started selling me on why I ought to work with them. Their figure came up but just barely. It translated to pennies on the hour and I know from research that women are often paid .75 cents to the $1 of what a man would be offered for the same gig.

Needless to say the figure wasn’t at what the market would bear.

I know first hand people who pay are always looking for a cheaper price whereas the person performing the service wants the highest price. Because of this, there’s always tension. I didn’t get upset.

I just declined the offer.

Later, I told a man about my experience. He said I was being “bitchy” and I should just have taken the offer because half a paycheck is better than no paycheck at all.

I didn’t want to devalue what I do, so I didn’t take the pay cut.

A few weeks later I listened to the same man negotiate a pay raise. He said unless he received the number he had in his head he would neither move nor perform the duties asked of him. His boss said this was a smart move. I told him it was bitchy. He told me it was just smart business.

I know because of the lessons I learned in business school that price is determined by whatever the marker will bear. I learned from experience that the trade off for fair market value is a loss in social capital.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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Networking: The Secret of Entrepreneurial Growth and Peace of Mind

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The other day I was speaking with my friend, Justin, a guy I met after I graduated from business school through the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program. He’s an attorney out in Colorado. Each year we meet up and hang out at the conference. Some years we meet up in Florida, other times Colorado. This year it’ll be Georgia.

Justin is an incredible friend. He’s the kind of guy who not only understands business but also doesn’t make you feel stupid for not understanding the same nuances he does. We tease each other a great deal. He tells me he’d love to work for my company because I dress women and as a consequence spend a great deal of time with ladies in their undergarments and I tease him and tell him I could surely be a lawyer because the only thing he does all day is read and write and then bill people and talk about what he just read and wrote. Oddly enough, even though his billable hours are much higher than mine, we have the same hourly rate and similar target markets.

I learned about Justin through business school. He was at the same conference that I was in Disney World and we found that we just clicked. Instant buddies. We ate all of our meals together, and he teased me for eating an exorbitant amount of food. We would pick each other up from class, and each year before we head to the next conference we call the other to make sure the other will be there. In my opinion, conferences wouldn’t be the same without him. Now before you insert your imagination into the piece you should know that he’s married with children and I am in a wonderful relationship with a great man who also has children so there’s no danger of chemistry between the two of us. He’s like my brother and as we all know once we banish someone to the “brother” or “sister” category, there’s no turning back.

Yesterday he and I were chatting about business. We were talking about the legal aspects of signatures, loan ramifications and who bears the onus of a loan if another party is unable to pay. You know, boring legal stuff. And in that instant I had a realization. Yes, business school educated me on the general overview of entrepreneurship but it gave me something I had previously neglected to talk about: it gave me a network. Justin is part of my network but we didn’t develop a bond because we both graduated from Syracuse, though that helped. We bonded because we spent time together, ran around the conferences together, learned, hung out, explored, talked and were vulnerable enough around the other to be able to look at the person and say, “Hey buddy, I am scared shitless to do this presentation.” And he’d look at me and say, “I’m nervous too but you’re going to do great.” I’d tell him I thought I was going to throw up and he’d reassure me it was just hangover and it would pass.

Now I’m not advocating drinking and cavorting with members of the opposite sex and running around at conferences all willy nilly. But I am advocating one thing that they taught me in business school and I realize I have with Justin. You’ve got to have a network. You’ve got to have people you trust. You have to surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth when you’re too afraid to see it for yourself.

I’m sick.

You’re hungover.

I’m afraid.

I am too.

That’s camaraderie. It’s a stupid example but it illustrates the point.

Build a network. Build a bond with people you can trust. Surround yourself with people who respect you and who you respect, too. Build friendships with people halfway around the country not because you need to have a superficial relationship and feel popular but because it is imperative as business owners that we have people who feel the same struggles, same apprehensions, same victories that we share because sometimes it feels awfully lonely trying to run an enterprise without a sidekick.

Here’s what I have learned through business school and subsequent networking that it’s important to have in a network:

In my experience, I want to surround myself with people with whom I can be authentic and vulnerable because when you’re in the Mile High City and facing altitude sickness along with anxiety over giving a VC presentation along with not knowing how in the world to get from Point A to Point B, you’ve got to have a buddy who cares about about you and respect you enough to help you get on your way and make sure you arrive at your goal safely.

I want to develop a network of people who won’t just help me but also afford me the opportunity to add value to them. When I see them struggle I am bound to help them—not out of superficial obligation but out of real friendship.

I want people that I can count on. I want a team.

And that’s one of the best lessons that I was educated on in business school but learned through my experience with Justin.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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If I Don’t Learn Six Sigma Now I’ll Hate Myself Later

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Although I know a Six Sigma certification would increase my earning potential, and offer me a competitive advantage in the workplace I’m not undertaking this education for the projected $38,000 salary increase over my counterparts.

Instead I’m interested in the knowledge.

As such I’m watching videos along with my fiancé through Villanova University to learn more about Six Sigma and lean manufacturing. He’s getting the credit; I’m getting the knowledge.
To give you a little background Six Sigma is set of techniques and tools for process improvement that was first used at Motorola, and then under Jack Welch’s leadership at General Electric. The ultimate goal of Six Sigma is to create defect-free products.

This process of learning and viewing the business world aims to achieve stable and predictable results, come up with ways to measure, analyze, control and improve previously existing processes and create an entire organization where quality is becomes top-notch.

It takes the guesswork out of decision-making because it gives verifiable data and statistical methods.

All this sounds fancy but when I look at it, I think about the practical ways that I can apply it to my business and more importantly to my thinking.

The first project methodology I am studying and applying to my business is called “DMAIC.” It stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control.

It’s where you define the system, the voice of the customer and develop goals. From there you collect and measure the current process and relevant data, and then analyze and find the root cause of the problem. From there you brainstorm ways to improve it and then control the process so that it works more fluidly the subsequent times around. It’s creating within me the volition to embrace kaizen, which is Japanese for “continuous improvement.” It’s helping me to see that my first crack at an idea isn’t always right but that it was be tweaked and measured along the way to become more efficient. It’s helping me to see my company not just as my baby but rather an experiment where I can try out new ideas, measure them and monitor their progress.

As I am listening to the videos on my iPad, I’m taking the ideas and applying them in my mind to my business. This helps me to do things: it helps me understand what they’re saying devoid of fancy business terms and it also helps me to apply the concept in a tangible way so that my business can become more streamlined.

It’s causing me to think about new ways to drive in business. It makes me wonder how I could apply these ideas to marketing, accounts receivable, customer service and more and it’s making me excited to try these new ideas once the class is over so that I’m not just educated on this, and so that I’m not just more marketable in the workplace but so that I have taken a concept and made it come alive.

Maybe it’ll net me $38,000 in business. Maybe it’ll lend itself the opportunity for me to take the test and become certified. I don’t know but I do know one thing for certain: it’s changing the way I learn about business and it’s giving me knowledge that I can apply in any endeavor.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.
Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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Do You Make These Time Management Mistakes in Business?

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Back in business school at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, we had a young entrepreneur come in saying how he wanted to create a film company. He said he labored day in and day out for more than a year before he had any break in his business. He sacrificed time with his family, expending long hours, countless dollars and days without results before he achieved any kind of success. In a sense, he was talking about time management and I know from experience as well as from studying that it takes more than 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in any field. That’s an idea borrowed from author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. That’s 416 consecutive days of not sleeping and just chipping away at a craft. So this entrepreneur’s math was right but what gave me pause was that he sacrificed so much for the result.

Since starting my own business, I often reflect on that young man’s teachings from business school. I think about how he led by example.

I don’t think that his passion and tenacity is wrong, and at the same token, I don’t operate the way he does.

Rather, I have more of a long range vision of where I want to take my company and how long it will take.

I can tell you from experience that I don’t want to spend every waking hour on this goal. It’s not that I don’t believe in it—quiet the contrary—it’s that I will have two little step children who are coming into my life and they’ll only be 9 and 7 once. I want to be there for them when I can and I know that I’ll never get back the opportunity to play pretend scientist or claymation artist or entrepreneurs who sell pieces of paper to the community for $1 a sheet or $5 for six pieces once in a lifetime.

One might argue that this entrepreneur is a man and I am a woman and as such we have differing roles and responsibilities in the world. Maybe, maybe not. I offer a bit more insight without speculation. I once read an HBR excerpt that left a real impression on me and I often apply it in my decision making. Now it’s not without mistakes that I apply this, but it gives me a framework on how to operate. It gives me a pause when I’m making decisions. It reminds me to follow the 10,10, 10 rule and I ask myself when facing choices: How will this choice I am about to make impact me 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now and 10 years from now? Additionally I ask myself how do I devote time when it’s a limited resource to my family, friends and my business? What kind of culture do I want to create in my life and in my business? Am I doing this for the right reason and is my ego in check? And finally, I ask myself, at the end of my life what do I want people to say about me?

I can’t say that this entrepreneur had a right or wrong approach to how he did business. I can’t say my choices are right or wrong, either. I know at the end of the day if we can both lay our heads down on our respective pillows and get a sound night’s sleep and not by plagued by the nagging choices before us or the ones we made today, that hopefully we’ll each find our respective measure of successes. He and I may not measure success the same way. That’s okay.

What’s important to me us ultimately not the level of individual prominence I have achieved; but just about the impact I have had on individuals—from the kids to my customers and associates.

I don’t know if I am doing it right, but I do know it’s going to take me far longer than 416 days to create this and master entrepreneurship. Rather than breathing it day in and day out, I hope to slowly chip away at it as a way of life rather than a means to an end.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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Lessons from B-School: Handle Criticism Like a CEO

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When I was taking classes at the Whitman School of Management, I remember hearing that you needed to surround yourself with people who would support you. Oftentimes you hear these words in all sorts of situations—like when you break-up with a lover, or when your dog dies—but it wasn’t until I entered into entrepreneurship that I understood the magnitude of impact your social circle has on your success.

In my experience people will either encourage you or discourage you but both don’t carry the same weight. I find that when I am discouraged in my own venture, and I talk to those close to me they often tell me to quit laboring so hard when there aren’t results. Their reasoning is that if it was going to work, it would have worked by now. These people, I might add, are not entrepreneurs. They have great jobs, make great pay and have great benefits. So in their mind, what’s the point in laboring without results? Oddly enough their words carry a heavy weight.

On the other hand, I also have people within my circle who are leaders in their organizations—presidents, vice presidents, CEOs and entrepreneurs—who tell me to keep at it. They tell me progress is slow and hard won. They tell me in some instances that they have been fighting for 20 years to solve a problem in their industry, their town, their community and still have yet to see the fruits of their labor blossom, but that they persevere anyway.

This is a strange dichotomy.

On one hand I have people who work hard and get results each week and on the other I have people who labor for years and still have yet to make any headway, or rather, their progress is measured in millimeters not miles.

And it’s moments like this when I harken back to business school and remember that it’s important to have people who are there to support you but also the people who often have negative insights are important, too.

Here’s what I have concluded: in the words of Richard Boyatzis, a professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western, “You need the negative focus to survive, but a positive one to thrive. You need both, but in the right ratio.”

What’s the right ratio? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

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Education vs. Experience in Entrepreneurship

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Experience taught me that I never wanted to be an entrepreneur; education taught me that I did.

This is a strange place to be.

Growing up my parents and grandparents had their own businesses. From the time I was tiny I would sweep out my grandparents’ trucks for a few bucks or sit around the dinner table with them discussing logistics, direction and profitability. I didn’t know the actual terms because I wasn’t educated. It was just part of every day life. To this day I don’t understand why people use fancy phrases like “synergy,” “efficiency,” and “ROI” when they’re speaking with one another.

I always thought it was simple: work hard, figure out what makes money and keep doing it to make more.

I also saw that they worked really hard. One set of grandparents had a mushroom farm and my Dad worked there; the other set had multiple businesses ranging from mushroom farms to selling Tahitian Noni as an independent rep to hauling Amish and running farmer’s markets. Regardless of where I went I was surrounded by people who were their own bosses who labored just as hard if not harder than those around them because they had a family business to run and grow. Their livelihood depended not only on their effort but also on the market.

I learned that when you work for someone you’re paid regardless of the outcome. When you work for yourself you work regardless of the pay.

As such I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to take the safe route. I wanted to work for National Geographic, which I did, and go into journalism, which I did. I wanted to get paid. I wanted to put aside 20 percent of my paycheck, labor for someone else and slowly chip away at savings and remain debt free.

I did this by becoming educated in English, Mass Communications, pagination, photojournalism, and social media. I did this by spending less than I earned—until I got married and subsequently divorced then I had someone else dipping into my paycheck, so essentially it was like being an entrepreneur where you work your tail off and lose money anyway—but that’s besides the point.

I figured out ways to learn for free. I read all of the books I could in my discipline. I imagined what I wanted to do and set out to do it. I didn’t know it, actually, but I was manifesting my future by being intentional about my education and career path.

But then I studied small business management and entrepreneurial studies at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Business. Suddenly everything changed. I realized that I was in an intrapreneurial role where I worked. This means I was using entrepreneurial skills in a department within an organization. I felt like an entrepreneur with training wheels. Syracuse taught me four things that I was able to apply to my job as a magazine editor.

First, I understood that money was a driver to either make or break the project I was working on and ultimately it wasn’t profitable because, in my opinion, it didn’t solve a need.

Second, when I took on the role, I came across all sorts of ideas that were planted in my little head and began to take root and without asking for permission I would often do them. This is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because I learned that if I made a decision I could execute it—without financial resources, without backing, and without permission. This is a bad thing, also, because it got me in trouble. I wasn’t trying to be a rabble-rouser. I just thought I could do something, so I did. When it panned out, it did well. When it didn’t, it flopped miserably.

Third, I learned to pivot—when things didn’t work one way I’d have to try another. Most ideas didn’t work the first five, 10 or 15 times but every once in awhile I’d stumble onto a gem of an idea that worked beautifully and I could replicate the results.

Fourth, and most importantly I learned to say no when I didn’t agree with something based on ethics, mentoring and business acumen. In business saying no can be costly. It can cost you your job, potential customers and relationships. But it can also do something important: it’ll give you a backbone, it gives you the courage to say if you think a process is working or isn’t and it gives you ownership of your project.

At some point I came to a crossroads: I knew the project I was working on was no longer feasible longterm. I knew that I like taking ideas and figuring out how to pull them off even if I had little experience and I learned that I had an entire network at Syracuse where I could call and rely on for questions and expertise.

At this juncture I became—for better or for worse—an entrepreneur and I learned the same lessons all over again from a different perspective: work hard, figure out what makes money and keep doing it to make more.

I worked hard. I became my own boss and even though I might not get paid for my efforts, my livelihood still depends on my efforts and that others will get paid regardless of the outcome.

At present, experience is teaching me that even though I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur, I am. Ongoing education is teaching me how.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page

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