Chloe and Isabel Boutique Special

I have been selling Chloe and Isabel for almost a year now.  I love it.  Their jewelry is fantastic!  I'm very picky about my jewelry, so when I saw Chloe and Isabel, I was excited because it is LIFETIME GUARANTEED and Nickel free!  In future posts, I will be highlighting some of my favorite C + I jewelry pieces.  

I want to offer special deal to you.  Send me an email in hosting a popup in October.  You will love the experience!

How to develop your leadership skills

Could the secret to business and leadership success stem from something as simple as developing a peaceful core?

After suffering a massive stroke that nearly killed him, John Addison, president and CEO of Addison Leadership Group and former co-CEO of Primerica, realized that the power of positive thinking basically saved his life. For John, a peaceful core is the place inside each of us where we can celebrate all the things about ourselves that is great, completely accept all our imperfections, and where we can totally focus on the positive.

With more than 25 years of leadership and personal development experience, John can help guide your readers to find their own peaceful core, including tips/advice such as:

John Addison is the president and CEO of Addison Leadership Group after having served as the Co-CEO of Primerica, Inc. from 1999 to 2015.  During his more than 25-year tenure at Primerica, Addison rose in management and was critical to steering the company through many changes including the company’s separation from Citigroup in 2009, which resulted in one of the most successful IPOs of the decade.  A world-class speaker and motivator, Addison shares his business acumen and leadership insights through speaking engagements, consulting opportunities and an upcoming book (February 2016).

Enjoy the interview on leadership and developing a peaceful core.

Faten Abdallah (FA): Define leader and leadership.
John Addison (JA): Leadership is having the courage to live your true life—the one you were put here to live—and to do it in a way that makes the world a better place than it was before you got here. Great leadership, the kind of leadership that endures, doesn’t spring up all at once, fully formed, out of nowhere. Great leadership emerges over time as an expression of who you are and what you do every day. More than anything, it takes shape as a result of everyday practice.

From my perspective, a leader is a lighthouse, not a weathervane. Lighthouses are needed when it’s stormy and foggy to provide ships a safe way home. Similarly, a leader shines when times are tough. In addition, a cornerstone of being a leader is that people know what you stand for. After a while, people will know and anticipate how a leader will react without even asking. Leaders have a consistency to their approach, effort, and values. While there are clearly different styles of leadership, the one thing they have in common is they are a rock – a person others can count on.

FA: What percentage of men and women are in leadership positions?
JA: When it comes to men and women in leadership positions, too often people think leadership is related to a job and title. I think it is more important to realize that being a leader doesn’t necessarily have anything to do this at all. For me, my mother was by far the most important and influential leader in my life, but she was never in a VP position. She did, however, influence and inspire everyone she came in contact with in her life within our community and family. She provided a great example of how I wanted to present myself and interact with people.

From my experience in life, typically women are better than men at the kind of leadership I talk about and admire.  By nature, women tend to be programmed to be better leaders than men. Perhaps this is because women tend to be more empathetic and are better listeners than broadcasters, while men tend to be a lot more vocal – which sometimes can be mistaken for leadership!

And also to note, even if you’re not leading other people, hopefully you’re leading yourself!

FA: What are some myths about leadership?
JA: Many don’t realize, but leadership is pretty much timeless. It boils down to the ability to convince people of the right answer, to be someone who can inspire and show them the right direction to go in. The founding fathers persuaded people to have a rebellion through courage and inspiration. Today, however, many times leadership is style over substance, such as how politicians just react and respond to recent polls vs. real actions and events.

FA: Are leaders born naturally or trained? 
JA: We are all born with certain skills that can be developed into skill sets for leadership, such as the ability to communicate and speak in front of people. The world is full of great communicators who aren’t great leaders, as well as others who are nervous in front of a microphone but are exceptional leaders. Overtime, you learn what it takes to be an effective leader and how you allow your internal character to develop in life. The number one criterion a leader needs is character. Today, however, our society tends to value style over substance. Many historical leaders would probably be disregarded if they were in the running today – such as based on their looks or speaking voice. Real leadership, however, is about being the type of person people want to follow and these are traits we learn throughout life.

FA: What are some key areas one can strengthen their leadership skills?
JA: Authenticity and empathy are basic leadership traits. They each help people to first trust and then like you. Very few people will follow someone they don’t trust and like. In addition, key ways I suggest to strengthen leadership include:
-          Turn off the TV – the power of disassociation is more powerful than power of association
-          Read books, especially a biography of a great leader – read about people who made a difference in their life and overcame adversity (i.e., Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt)
-          Actually talk to people – learn to communicate in the real sense–not just through a text—and  actually show interest in people
-          “Unplug” – in the sense that your life shouldn’t be controlled by the news and technology 24/7. Get off the internet and look up from your phone; learn to have depth to what you believe

People need to have a conversation with others to actually develop speaking skills. I am always shocked how out of touch people seem to be. I am in the airport all the time traveling, and 9 out of 10 times I see someone under 40 with ear buds in their ears and tapping away at their phones or computers. They are surrounded by people but interacting with no one in person.

In addition, as the power of persuasion is going away, if someone has the ability to persuade people they will be ahead of the game in the long run. The world is rapidly changing and there is no doubt that technology has made how things are done dramatically different, so you have to be quicker, smarter, and more adaptable to excel.

FA: List resources where people can learn about leadership.
JA: While it can be destructive, the internet is equally powerful, as it is a wealth of resources. I would advise people looking to learn about leadership to find someone you admire who did something – someone who actually overcame great odds and achieved something – and then research them. Really immerse yourself in who they are; read about them, look at their quotes, discover what they stood for. Then, “copy” their style but adapt it to make it work for you and who you are.

You can find John Addison: 

-          John Addison, president and CEO of Addison Leadership Group and former co-CEO of Primerica
-          Website:
-          Twitter: @JohnAddisonGA
-          Facebook: JohnAddisonLeadership

Guest Post: How to Establish Emergency Savings During Market Uncertainty


Andrea Woroch

Wall Street sustained a major plunge after China's Black Monday spread stock market fears worldwide on August 24, but experts advise consumers to treat the bounce back with caution. Ups and downs in the economic and industry cycles are unavoidable, and with 47% of Americans admitting they have little to no savingsthere is no better time than now to establish and build an emergency fund.

Nothing can prepare you for a recession or layoff, but money to cover your expenses can help lessen the blow to your budget! Here are 6 tips for creating a cushion to give you peace of mind in these unpredictable times.

1. Track living expenses.
If you don't know how much you spend each month on the necessities, you can't plan accordingly. Track your spending for one to three months (use an app like Mint for help) to determine how much money goes toward essentials like mortgage or rent, insurance, food, transportation and utilities. Estimate the monthly average and multiply it by six or nine; this will give you the amount of cash you need to cover your bills for six to nine months.

2. Set a savings goal and plan.
Stashing away extra cash for living expenses will take time. In fact, you may feel discouraged after calculating the total amount you'd like to put aside, since it may seem like an impossible goal. To combat this, devise a savings plan with specific steps to help you reach that target figure, which may include cutting back on Saturday night dinner dates and saving a set amount of money each month.

3. Treat emergency funds as a bill.
When you're saving for an emergency fund, the goal may be hard to stick to without looming due dates, interest rates or late fees forcing you to pay up. Since there's no immediate or obvious repercussion for missing your savings goal each month, it's important to treat it like a bill. Better yet, automate the savings by setting up a weekly or monthly transfer of funds between your checking account and the emergency fund.

4. Slash everyday expenses.
Look for ways to slash your everyday expenses so you can reach your goal faster. For example, you can carpool or take public transportation to cut down on fuel costs. Instead of relying on takeout during the week, prep meals on the weekends and freeze them for quick access on weeknights. You can also try budget hacking, or the process of reducing your fixed expenses by calling up providers and requesting discounts or reduced payments on such things as car insurance, mobile plan costs and cable TV.

5. Get savvier with spending.
Cutting back on your discretionary spending can feel rough at times and can lead to burnout and goal abandonment. To avoid this, find savvy ways to curb your spending without cutting out all the fun. For example, tools like the Coupon Sherpa mobile app offer instant discounts to retail, restaurant and local service establishments. Currently, you can save up to 20% off your check from Olive Garden, or use a Macy's coupon for an extra 20% off sale and clearance items.

6. Diversify income.
Expanding your income stream will provide protection against the inevitable swings of the economic cycles. Plus, the extra money earned can be used to boost your savings budget and possibly set you up for a new career. Whether you want to turn a passion into a side job or believe your professional skills can help individuals or small businesses through consulting, check out and Fiverr to start the process. If nothing comes to mind, tap into where you can help other people with their errands during your spare time for a small fee. 

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes and many more. For more information, visit or follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

Friday Feature: Meet Tina Aldatz

According to the Small Business Administration, about half of all new establishments survive five years or more and only one-third survives 10 years or more. One success story is the business of Foot Petals, founded by successful Latina entrepreneur Tina Aldatz. Sharing her success secrets, Aldatz announced the nationwide release of her new autobiography, “From Stilettos to the Stock Exchange,” a compelling and heartwarming story of success against all odds.

Aldatz made her mark on the world as a self-starting entrepreneur and founder of Foot Petals, the revolutionary line of designer insole cushions for women’s high heels. Derived from a severe burn injury on both her feet as a child, Tina created Foot Petals to help fill a gap in the market for women’s high-heeled foot support. Through her strength and tenacity, Foot Petals became a successful multi-million dollar company recognized by Inc. 500 as one of the “500 fastest growing companies in America.” She has also been featured in Forbes Magazine as an “entrepreneur to watch” and was honored to become the 2011 National Latina Business Women Association’s (NLBWA) “Business Woman of the Year.”

Meet Tina Aldatz, a sucessful Latina Entrepreneur.

Faten Abdallah (FA): What was your life like growing up?
Tina Aldatz (TA):  My childhood was full of socio-economical challenges, including being a pediatric burn survivor and a victim of domestic and child abuse.  My past experiences taught me to chose to be opportunistic rather than a victim. I do not let me circumstances define me, I believe in the American Dream. 

FA: As a minority in the US, what kinds of challenges have you faced? 
TA: I have faced challenges being a minority as both a woman and Hispanic. As a half-Mexican and half-Irish descendant, I witnessed racial discrimination from both sides – but it also allowed me to conveniently “blend in” to whichever culture I was immersed in. I have always related more to my Mexican roots, being a Republican has helped me to navigate political and social activism – I like being a voice for immigrants, like my grandmother from Mexico, who sought new opportunities in the United States. 

FA: What made you want to be an entrepreneur? 
TA: I am a creative person by nature and I was disenchanted by the traditional love, marriage, family at a young age…so I dreamed of a world where I could be a “business woman,” perhaps seeking to control my environment and the impact it has on others.

FA: What advice do you have for females of color who to become entrepreneurs?
TA:  I advise joining groups and organizations with like-minded people – it has been a long time tried and true business strategy formerly known as the “good ol’ boys’ club.” 

FA: You run a business with your best friend.  How do you keep the professional and personal boundaries separate?
TA: We don’t – we crack each other up so much – sometimes we are like two laughing hyenas while the younger associates keep it buttoned up – but really it comes from a place of total respect. Her qualities are very different from mine. We know what we are good at, but more importantly, we know what we are not good at and that simple equation allows us to sit back and let expert drive.  

FA: Anything else you would like to add? 
TA:  Dedicated to overall travel wellness while offering lifestyle components for both personal and surface use. Savvy Travelers high performance products are individually packed in a disposable sheet form that remove 99% of surface contaminationProudly made in California, Savvy Travelers' line of convenient, single-use, eco-friendly, disposable products help consumers carry all of their must-haves while they travel for a healthy, easy, on-the-go experience. Keeping travelers healthy for all their destinations! Follow @Savvy_Travelers on social media and like us on Facebook.

AMERICAN MASTERS | The Women's List Trailer | PBS

Meet 15 women who have created and defined contemporary American culture in the newest chapter of filmmaker/photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders' List film series (The Boomer List, The Black ListThe Latino List, The Out List), American Masters: The Women's List, premiering nationwide Friday, September 25, 9-10 p.m., on PBS (check local listings) and available the same day on DVD via Perfect Day Films Inc.

This documentary features intimate interviews with Madeleine Albright, Gloria Allred, Laurie Anderson, Sara Blakely, Margaret Cho, Edie Falco, Elizabeth Holmes, Betsey Johnson, Alicia Keys, Aimee Mullins, Nancy Pelosi, Rosie Perez, Shonda Rhimes, Wendy Williams and Nia Wordlaw. All trailblazers in their respective fields, these women share their experiences struggling against discrimination and overcoming challenges to make their voices heard and their influence felt.  Toni Morrison opens the film with a reading of an introduction she wrote specifically for the film. 

Recipe: Coco Joy’s Coconut Water Smoothie

Coco Joy offers a variety of all-natural coconut products including: Premium Classic and Flavored Coconut Waters (Watermelon, Strawberry, Pineapple, Banana), Flavored Coconut Water for Kids (Banana and Strawberry), and Natural and Flavored Coconut Milks (Chocolate, Coffee, Banana)Coco Joy’s products are never made from concentrate and are derived purely from fresh coconuts.

Enjoy the yummy Coco Joy's Coconut Water Smoothie.

1 cup Coco Joy Coconut Water
¼ cucumber, or 1 small cucumber
1 cup kale leaves, large
2 to 3 mint leaves
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 banana
1 cup ice *optional, if your banana is frozen
½ tbsp honey

1) Combine all ingredients into a blender
2) Blend until smooth, pour into a cup and enjoy!

Happiness Made Simple

Happiness is a decision. We all have the ability to decide to be happy! The challenge is to filter out the constant barrage of negativity that engulfs our world. In this brand new HooplaHa original series "Happy Made Simple," organizational psychologist and eternal optimist Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD will talk about the simple, yet often neglected, things we can all do to live happier more positive lives.  
On the premiere episode of "Happy Made Simple," Dr. Woody suggests a few key words to remove from your vocabulary to help increase a more positive state of mind and decrease worry, anxiety and negativity.

Nominations Being Accepted for the BBB 2016 Torch Awards for Marketplace Ethics

Nominations are now being accepted to honor exceptional businesses with the Torch Awards from the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.  These awards are presented annually to outstanding businesses in recognition of their commitment to high standards in relationships with their customers, employees, suppliers, competitors, and the surrounding communities.

Like the BBB Torch logo, the Torch Awards honor and help to illuminate the importance of a corporate conscience and the responsibility for creating a fair and honest marketplace.

The Torch Awards nomination process is open to all for-profit Chicago and northern Illinois based businesses. Nominations can come from individuals or businesses.

An individual may nominate the company he or she works for, owns or is affiliated with; as well as any company that individual does business with, or any company, which the nominating individual believes, meets the Torch Award criteria.  A company can also be nominated by an organization (i.e., Chamber of Commerce, academic institution, ethics organization, trade association, etc.).

Candidates for the 2016 Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics will be evaluated by a prestigious independent panel of judges from the business and academic communities against these criteria:

  • High ethical standards of behavior toward customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees, and communities.
  • Demonstrated ethical practices surrounding their buyer/seller relationships.
  • Marketing, advertising, communications, and sales practices which reflect a true representation of what is being offered in the market place.
  • Acknowledgment of ethical marketplace practices by industry peers and in the communities where they do business.
  • Management practices and policies that give long-term value to shareholders, customers, employees, and vendors.
  • Training programs that assist employees in executing ethics policies.

Companies are judged in five categories based on the following employee numbers: 1-9; 10-99; 100-999, 1,000-7,499 and 7,500+.  Recognition and awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, November, 19, 2015 – 11:00 a.m. at Loews Chicago O’Hare, 5300 North River Road, in Rosemont, IL.

To nominate a company, or for detailed information on judging criteria, go to and click on the torch award link on the lower right side of the page. You may also e-mail Nina Castle at  or mail to BBB Torch Award, 330 N. Wabash Ave., #3120, Chicago, IL 60611.  Entries must be postmarked no later than Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Winners will be selected by October 16, 2015 and will be notified by phone following completion of judging.

A Guide to Healthy Aging for Women

Aging women and men differ in the diseases they face and their exercise and health needs. For women around the world the leading cause of death is heart disease, followed by breast cancer. Most medical conditions and ailments that women face can be controlled and sometimes treated, so there is a possibility of reducing the number of deaths attributed to these illnesses. As research has shown, a healthy diet, exercise and regular medical checkups are the key ingredients for healthy aging for women. In the infographic below, the University of Florida Online took a closer look at the health issues facing women as they age and the strategies for the prevention of diseases and illnesses they may face:

UF Online Infographic: Health Aging for Women

UF Online B.S. in Health Education

Feature Friday: Meet Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is The Antiques Diva® – Chief Executive Diva of The Antiques Diva® & Co European Tours – Europe’s largest antiques touring and sourcing company.  As an American who has lived abroad nearly 15 years, it has been said Clark Haines is conquering countries faster than Napoleon.  Working with a team of 18+ locally-based agents, The Antiques Diva® & Co offers customized antique buying tours in 8 countries (and counting) working with both the public as well as the trade.  Her favorite part of her job is stocking clients antique stores and creating new trends in home fashions. 

When this Global Tastemaker is not taking some of the top names in the design industry on buying tours, Clark Haines is also a freelance travel and design writer, an international public speaker and a social media guru.   She is a champagne connoisseur, a vintage Chanel addict and her hobbies include driving fast cars and gourmet cooking.  Traveling extensively for work, she divides her time between her home in Berlin, Germany and each of her companies tour countries as well as quarterly visits to the USA.  Her long-term goals include expanding her company into Asia.  Her greatest challenge in life is remembering when she wakes each day whether to greet the day with a Buogiorno, Bonjour, Guten Tag or simply Good Day.  

 Meet Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva.

Faten Abdallah (FA): What inspired you to go into antiques?
Toma Clark Haines (TCH):If I think about my life history, antiques and travel were always intertwined in my mind. My mother was a third generation American. Her grandparents moved over from England and my whole life I grew up hearing stories of far-away places and long-ago times.  The past was always a part of my present.  As a child we ate with the silverware my grandparents carried over on the boat when they moved to America.   I have always been a traveler – whether in my mind or in reality.  I’ve traveled in more than 45 countries – and to me antiques are another way of traveling.  They transport you.  Antiques transport you to other times, other places and give glimpses into other lives. They tell a story - they’re more than decor -  they take you on adventure to someplace less ordinary.  That’s the intent behind the tours my company The Antiques Diva & Co offers….  We are the largest antiques touring company in Europe - offering one on one customized buying tours to both tourists as well as the trade in 8 countries - France, Belgium, England, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.  Our goal is to give our clients an opportunity to culturally cruise a country through antiques - the pieces one buys on tour give glimpses into what life is like inside those villa windows and Parisian apartments making their adventure part of a greater story.

FA: What makes antiques unique and valuable?
TCH: There are several rules of thought when it comes to what makes antiques valuable.  Die Hards will tell you - “In order to be antique it must be 100 years old.” Working internationally customs officials often accept “Almost Antiques”  (those items that are 75 to 99 years old) as an “antique” when it comes to import and export restrictions.  And the antique trends as of late are bringing Vintage into the modern day.  Technically - to be vintage an item should be from the 1940’s, 50’s or 60’s - but 1970’s and 80’s ceramics and furniture are ruling the market at the moment.  When it comes to what makes antiques unique and valuable - I’d say exactly what I told myself on my 40th birthday…. “Age Doesn’t Matter.”  Whether it’s a piece from the 1760’s, the 1860’s or the 1960’s - quality counts - how well it’s constructed, the lines, especially anything hand-made or limited edition add value, but decorative appeal counts most of all in todays market place.   People today buy based upon an asthetic - it’s less about pedigree and more about style.  While there are millions of fabulous antique value guide books giving estimates on antiques - my opinion - the value of an antique - especially in those decorative pieces - is entirely subjective.  The right price for an antique is what they buyer would be willing to pay - and working internationally - I know that price changes by country and/or region.  Value changes according to country and their taste preferences - in France long lives the Louis'… Gilt-wood still demands top euro.  Meanwhile in Holland where the Dutch like clean lines and interiors anything Rococo is practically given away.  A Louis XV style console in France that might sale for 1500E in the Netherlands might sell for 500E and then… bring that same item to America and the vendors will multiply their purchase prices by a mark up of 3 to 5 times their cost.  So if you ask me… The real value in antiques comes down to Love Sweet Love.   If you buy what you love you’ll never regret your purchases and it will always keep it’s value.

FA: What's the most interesting antique you have found, purchased or sold?
TCH: 1  in 5 queries coming into our company at the moment by clients seeking European Buying Tours are architectural salvage tour requests - antique dealers, architects, interior designers, developers, hoteliers and restaurateurs are all dying to source architectural pieces to use in projects. - these could be doors, mantles, windows, flooring, roof and flooring tiles, stairwells, bricks, etc.  The most interesting antique I’ve ever helped a client buy was a Neo Gothic Cathedral Ceiling coming out of a church in Maastricht - the client was searching for a painting ceiling she could use in the renovation of her home and this piece was perfect.  For 16K not only did it go into her own home - she (a designer) was also able to use parts of the piece in numerous clients homes as well!

FA: Advice on finding the best purchase prices for antiques.  What about those who would like to sell some of their pieces?
TCH: We’ve all heard the expression… “It’s Not What You Know… It’s Who You Know.”  When buying antiques as with most things in life… getting the best price comes down to relationships.  If you find a vendor whose style of inventory you love develop a relationship with them.  They may not have that exact item you’re looking for right now… but if you like their vibe/ their look then you can entrust them to search for inventory of your behalf.  The more you buy from one vendor inevitably the better of price you get from that vendor when you buy multiple items.  And returning customers are always given priority in pricing.  Be memorable. Chat with the vendor.  Most antique dealers are in this business because they love what they do - and if they know  you love what they do - they’ll appreciate you appreciating them! When you return to their store - remind them what you bought from them and why you love it.  My grandmother always said, “You can catch more flies with honey.” When buying Be Nice. (Heck, regardless of what you’re doing in life… Be Nice… Life’s Too Short For Anything Else!).  Some of the worse advice I’ve ever heard on antiquing is “point out the faults of what’s wrong with piece.”… Don’t do this! First of all - it’s not nice - and doesn’t endear you to vendors.  Second of all… that 18th C Spanish Console is Scratched??! Oh No! The vendor might need to RAISE THE PRICE THEN - You’re paying extra for that PATINA.  Antiques aren’t perfect - just as when we age we get wrinkles and gray hair…. that’s what happens with antiques and those signs of a life-well-lived are often what creates the patina that raises the price not decreases it!  Last but not least - always - always - always - ask for a discount.  If you don’t ask.. You dont receive.  The polite way to ask for a discount (if you dont feel comfortable negotiating) is to say “Is that your best price?” It’s easy, direct and to the point - if the vendor has room in their profit margin it puts them in control of choosing what discount to give you.  And… sometimes you’ll be surprised. Once I was going to offer a vendor 40Euro for an item marked 50E - but when I asked their best price they responded 30E! 

FA: What should someone look for when purchasing an antique?
TCH: When you buy antiques ask as much information as possible.  Find out the age, the material, where it was made, how it was originally used, who would have used it.  Ask where the vendor found the item - who they bought it from - gather as many details as possible about the story of the piece. Also google your purchases…. the internet is an amazing wealth of information on antiques!

FA: What have you learned about yourself as you made a career switch?
TCH: While today clients and readers know me as The Antiques Diva (R) - Chief Executive Diva of Europe’s largest antiques touring (and sourcing) company - I haven’t always been a diva! In a past life I worked in marketing and advertising working with clients such as Dunkin Donuts, Target, McDonalds, and Pearl Vision. This background has been fundamental in the growth of my company as I  knew how to market my services. I’ve always thought of myself as a creative person - and never gave myself enough credit as a business woman.  But what I learned about myself through starting my own company was that I actually enjoyed the process of running a business - making strategic decisions about the direction the company would take and implementing them.  I’ve also learned in running a company - that it’s not all about me - it’s about my team.  While I’m the face of the company - our business could not operate without the body.  I have a team of 18 people who work with me and while we operate as a whole - I’ve learned that I shouldn’t micro-manage them as in order for them to operate at their peak performance they needed to have ownership in their roles.  I’ve learned I dont have to do it all myself. Just because I can do something - doesn’t mean I have to do it.  I’ve learned to trust others, ask for help and listen to others as getting outside opinions has been instrumental to my companies success…. And last but not least… I’ve learned to Trust My Instincts.  Just because you ask for advice - it doesn’t mean you have to take it.  As an entrepreneur you have to be both wise enough to ask for advice and strong enough to trust your instincts on whats right for your company.

To Book an Antiques Diva European Buying Tour visit or email

Guest Post: 9 Steps Proven to Build a Successful Sales Team From Scratch


Eliot Burdett

 Building a sales team from scratch is one of the most difficult and important tasks of a CEO. Generating revenue through sales, especially as start-up capital diminishes, can make or break a company’s success. However, hiring the wrong salespeople costs dearly in time and treasure. Fortunately, there is a well-defined formula for success.

Eliot Burdett, co founder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, offers some advice.

1)   DON’T BUILD TO SOON: Any entrepreneur yearns for revenue streams but if the product is not ready, the offering is shifting, the budget for an industry leader is not there or the appropriate management support is not in place, hiring salespeople can be a waste of limited resources. This is because the salespeople won’t have enough stability to be successful. Furthermore, prospects will want to speak to founders that have high domain knowledge and the authority to reduce the fear of risk associated with a young company. When these conditions stabilize, the time is right to start the recruiting process.

2)   DEFINE SALES TEAM STRUCTURE: Before hiring can commence, clearly defining the structure of the sales team is critical.  Will a rep handle everything from prospecting to closing or will there be separate teams for new business versus inbound leads? It is critical to define the process in advance so selling behaviors are aligned with the sales structure and strategy.

3)   ASSIGN TERRITORIES: Defining sales territories focuses selling efforts and prevents employees from targeting the same accounts and cannibalizing their efforts. Territories can be defined by geography, sector, or business size.

4)   MAP OUT INDIVIDUAL SALES GOALS:  Identify the goals used to measure success for each sales rep. These should include not only revenue goals but also the sales activity required to achieve the revenue. To derive these, work backwards, start from the desired output divided by the number of sales to arrive at the target number of sales wins, then determine the number of prospects, calls and amount of time required to win each sale. It is important to be realistic.

5)   DETERMINE BASE AND COMMISSION: Sales compensation plans vary widely across industries and companies, but as a rule of thumb, new business development positions pay a 50/50 split of base salary and commission. The compensation plan may need to be adjusted to provide fair reward for the effort and risk assumed by the salesperson, but more importantly, make sure it is high enough to attract the right sales people from competing employers.

6)   HIRE BASED ON SALES DNA AND NOT RESUME: Ideally, hire a candidate that has a proven track record of selling in startups. However, more important is to measure their sales DNA which we define as key traits of successful sellers such as ambition, perseverance, confidence, optimism, sense of urgency, desire to influence others, flexibility and ability to deal with uncertainty. The right DNA is the biggest predictor of sales success.

7)  FOCUS ON THE THINGS THAT ATTRACT TOP SALES TALENT: With limited funds, attracting top salespeople is difficult for startups, but not impossible.  The key is to make eye catching job ads, offer a viable and well defined career as opposed to just a job, get compensation offers right, and focus on attracting gainfully employed sales people, since the best of the best are always progressing well in their career. 

8)  IMPLEMENT A STRUCTURED ONBOARDING PROGRAM: The first 90 days of a sales rep’s employment is a critical time. Each day should be mapped out in terms of training on the product/service, the market and customers, and the selling approaches, systems and tools. Territory and account plan development and various other tests should be used to gauge learning progress and knowledge retention.  Companies that take the time to invest in onboarding reap the rewards down the road.

9)  MEASURE SUCCESS: It is critical that a new sales hire’s performance be monitored and measured closely. This is easy to do in companies with a shorter sales cycle, where it will be reasonable for a sales person to generate sales very quickly. In companies with a longer sales cycle, the focus needs to be on activities such as calls, meetings and pipeline of qualified opportunities. In either case, failure to monitor the activities can lead to poor habits, poor results and a failed hire which has awful consequences.

Building a sales team from the ground up is no easy task, but when done properly, it will lead to a powerful sales force that delivers strong and consistent revenue.

Eliot Burdett is the Co-Founder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, a leading B2B sales recruiting company launched in 2006. Burdett received his Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.  He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast.

September in Rockford, IL

Check out these great events happening in Rockford in September! 
For more events happening in the Rockford Region, visit 
Jive in Your Ear 2015       

WHEN: Friday, September 4 - Saturday, September 5
WHERE: Nordlof Center and on Main Street downtown
Independent Ear, Inc. and 815 Local Jive are bringing a live music festival back to downtown Rockford! This free event for all ages features live performances by regional talent including Pistol Pete, 99 Proof Devils, Taboo Blah Blah, Mono in Stereo, and more. The event is being held in support of In This Moment Organization, which raises funds for families impacted by suicide. (More info)
Greek Fest 2015        

WHEN: Friday, September 11 - Sunday, September 13
WHERE: Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church
Downtown will be filled with the sounds of Greek music and the tantalizing aromas of Greek delicacies. There will be dancing (both modern and traditional Greek), food, baked goods, a raffle, and more. Friday night will also feature live music by local band Men of Our Times.(More info)
Greenwich Village Art Fair         

WHEN: Saturday, September 19 - Sunday, September 20
WHERE: Rockford Art Museum
Greenwich Village Art Fair is the longest-running art fair of its kind in the Midwest. The annual two-day event (held rain or shine) features artwork from up to 155 juried artists (on display and for sale), live music by local musicians, a gourmet marketplace, children's art activities and food and drink.(More info)
World War II Days        

WHEN: Friday, September 25 - Sunday, September 27
WHERE: Midway Village Museum
World War II Days includes elaborate and realistic battles complete with tanks, artillery, armored vehicles, and exciting pyrotechnic displays. More than 1,200 re-enactors will engage in battles, skirmishes, demonstrations and displays on Saturday and Sunday. Take a Behind the Lines tour on Friday evening.(More info) 


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