I had a wonderful evening with a group of dynamic women participating in the POWER: Chicago conference. The venue was Sandra Rand’s home in Hyde Park that provided an intimate setting with a candid opportunity to discuss entrepreneurship. About 40-50% of the women are entrepreneurs with the remaining interested in pursuing their own business. Ms. Rand was an excellent moderator who leveraged her experiences in both corporate and entrepreneurship. Hedy Ratner was a thought leader who discussed the benefits of the Women’s Business Development Council. The panel discussion included Pat Pulido Sanchez of Pulido Sanchez Communications, Danielle Hrzic of Gourmet Gorilla, and myself. A quick summation of our core points:
- “Do your research. And then do more research.” Creating a business plan and understanding the market is essential for entrepreneurs. You need to understand who will utilize your services and products. You need to understand your competition, and the impact it will have on your business. You need to understand all the costs associated- in addition to all of the time it will occupy to launch your business.
- “Take risks, but know that you can always say ‘No’ if it doesn’t feel right.” Entrepreneurs are already taking risks by starting something new. This may include leaving a corporate position with high pay, numerous benefits, and a corporate reputation. I recommend that if you are making bigger decisions, to create smaller bite size decisions that you are comfortable with that will eventually lead you to your goal. It’s rarely a life or death situation.
- “Make time for work/life balance.” It’s a gentle reminder that spending time away from your work is good for the soul and can make you more productive with your business. This includes spending time with family and friends, exercising, meditating, and taking up a hobby.
- “Failure is not an option.” Entrepreneurship is such a humbling experience. Pat spoke about how you learn something from every situation that occurs. She mentioned that some of her career changes that seemed like failures were opportunities for bigger and better things. If you lose your biggest client, view it an opportunity to seek a better client. You learn to be flexible and nimble and create your own opportunities.
Personally, I feel that none of the discussion included rocket science or brain surgery, but it was reinforcement and encouragement that it IS viable to have a successful company and enjoy the fruits of your labor. There’s nothing worse than listening to someone complain day after day (even year after year) about how unappreciated and underpaid she is with her current employer when she has the capacity to be the CEO & Chair of the Board of her own company.
Invitation: Is your life not fulfilled because you feel under appreciated, under paid, and you are not growing at your current employer? I invite you to consider entrepreneurship. If you choose to go into business, there are numerous resources such as other (women) entrepreneurs to help you succeed and provide assistance.
I travel a LOT for my business. In the beginning, I used to get excited for the trips, and then eventually I got hit with the negatives of traveling which includes airline delays, bad weather, and long hours. So I created some goals and activities that help ground me and keep the trips exciting. One of my goals is to visit all of the baseball parks in North America.
People ask me who my favorite team is, and my answer is “I am a fan of baseball.” I reminisce about my family going to the game, and my father teaching me how to keep score. I enjoy people watching – especially the kids who are high on cotton candy with the expectation that a fly ball will land in their glove. Mostly, I enjoy the sounds and sights of the individual parks.
Prior to my trip, I log onto the mlb.com
website and check the schedule. I look at the features of the park including the food venues. I enjoy taking public transportation to the park. I typically choose a couple of places ahead of time to hit, but for the most part, I wander within the park.
It’s been interesting to compare the different parks. I do enjoy the nostalgia of the older parks such as Wrigley, Camden, and Fenway (despite some of the technology and aesthetic changes). But I am more captivated by the newer parks such as Miller Park and Target Field.
1. Rangers Ballpark: Coney Island’s Foot Long Chili Dog
2. Citi Field: El Verano Taqueria’s Elote Corn on the Cob & Chicken Mole Pipian Tacos
3. Kauffman Stadium: Royals All Star Barbeque’s BBQ pulled pork sandwich
Target Field for the Minnesota Twins
I’m looking forward to a great season with my favorite mantra when I am at the game: “It’s a great day/night for baseball!”
The Info Junkie section is one of my favorite columns to read in the weekly Chicago Crain’s Business. The interview led to another feature in the Daily Herald on cooking.
2013 started with a nice kick. CSMI & I were inducted into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame with the University of Illinois Chicago. My fellow inductees have done some incredible things especially in the technology sector.
Dr. Hom wrote a nice article interview style which concludes, “Dr. Eng has achieved what few other optometrists have achieved, a life outside of practicing optometry. She has taken an unconventional approach of life after optometry school by basing her new career with a long experience in engineering management. There were no short cuts in her plan and her result is exemplified by the success of her company.”
I have the good fortune to travel around the world for my career. I’ve learned through the years to take the opportunity to enjoy the cities and countries by spending a few extra days absorbing the culture.
There are a few goals that I have when visiting.
- Baseball Parks – I want to visit every ballpark in America. I’m a fan of baseball, no particular team, and I’m fascinated with the spirit of the game. (add check list)
- Chinatowns – I was born in Chicago Chinatown, and I find myself comparing it to every Chinatown in the world.
- Farmer’s Markets / Food Trucks – I believe that we have a responsibility to support the local communities. It’s amazing to see the different markets and foods all around the world.
It’s interesting how people celebrate their birthdays each year. My nine year old was super excited, and relishes being a year older. Our office manager simply says that we can’t celebrate her birthday. And on Facebook, I feel so popular with over 70 of my friends wishing me a happy birthday.
Since I was 21 years old, I have a birthday ritual. I wake up before everyone, and read the letter I wrote to myself 10 years ago. It’s quite exciting seeing the letter and unsealing it. The format of my letter never changes. It is broken into three parts. The first is a synopsis of the past year that includes highlights of my professional career, my personal life, and my relationships with my family and friends. The second part is setting some goals for the next year. And the final section is what I look forward to the most. It is my younger self predicting what I am like ten years later and asking questions to my older self.
The most difficult part of the 10-year letter is waiting for the first time you can open your letter.
My priorities have changed through the years, and quite frankly, the issues that were pressing at the time, I typically don’t remember ten years later. A lot of the predictions that I have made have come true. I believe this is because your behaviors may change over the years, but beliefs rarely do.
Invitation: Consider writing a birthday letter to yourself as a way to document your memories and inspire your future self.
I’m Dr. Karen Eng, and I am so grateful to connect with you. I’m hoping to capture the aspects of my world that enhance my life and to inspire those around me.
I believe that you have to have a balance between your professional, personal, & family life and you are proud and humbled by your accomplishments with a craving to contribute even more for your business, community, city, country, and world…
When I was 10, my parents, sister, and I went on our first vacation to the Hawaiian Islands. This trip changed my life, and I return there every year. One of the biggest reasons we love Hawaii so much is that we acclimated to the lifestyle so easily that the locals believed we were from the island. No where on the mainland had we received that vibe.