November 06, 2017

How to Work From Home and Enjoy Life

 

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Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

 

Today my guest blogger is Lucy Wyndham who spent over a decade in HR before taking a step back to spend more time with her growing family. She now works as a freelance writer and editor specializing in helping people take control of their careers and managing work-life balance as a parent. Lucy works from home so these tips come from her personal experience. If you work from home, I  think you will find them useful.

 


2015-08-02 09.22.25Tips For Work-From-Home Moms

4 Ways To Achieve Work-Life Balance And Enjoy Life

For most work-from-home moms, achieving work-life balance can sometimes feel like chasing after a mythical creature. Women are busier than ever as a new survey reveals that 79% of working mothers are still taking on the bulk of household chores. If you work at home, it’s likely that you do even more to care for your family as you strive to balance your career with your family life. It’s also highly possible that you experience emotional distress as a poll indicates that one in four working moms cry once a week due to the stress of trying to have it all. If this is your situation, don’t despair—it’s possible to achieve work-life balance and enjoy life while you work-from-home. By getting organized, staying disciplined, and asking for help, you can earn a living, tend to your family’s needs, and be happy as you work at home.

 

Create a schedule

If you’re in the habit of doing whatever needs to be done at odd times, then you’re at risk of burning out. Create a schedule of things that you need to do and place it a highly visible area so you’re reminded of your tasks for the day. For instance, after preparing breakfast and doing the morning clean up, you can designate the next few hours for doing deep work. Stick to your schedule as much as you can and you’ll find that you get to accomplish more tasks this way

Take productive breaks

Even the busiest work-from-home mom needs to take a break. But instead of watching YouTube videos or going on Facebook, try having a productive break. You can take paid online surveys to have some extra money or meditate for a few minutes. You can even squeeze in a good workout by taking a walk around the block or doing some yoga in your living room. Or sit at your favorite spot in your home and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. The point is to do something that will benefit you physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially, so whatever you choose to do during your break, make it count and make sure that it does you good.

Ask for help

Most moms who work at home tend to take on the lion’s share of the chores, but you don’t have to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate some tasks to your kids or partner to reduce your stress levels. Even pre-schoolers can do simple chores such as matching socks and putting away chores. Resist the urge to do simple tasks for your family because you think you can do them faster or better—the more you let your loved ones take over these chores, the more adept they’ll become in doing them in the future.

Schedule a proper “me time”

Work-from-home moms need and deserve a day off, but to enjoy it, you need to schedule a proper me time at least once a twice a week. Don’t try to squeeze in a few errands on your me time. The point is to take a few hours—or a whole day—to take care of yourself. This is the perfect time for you to schedule a massage, a manicure, or a haircut. It’s also a good opportunity to window shop and browse to your heart’s content, to try eating at that new restaurant that your kids would never go to, and to indulge in your hobbies, such as meeting with your book club. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself and keep in mind that investing in your personal wellness is just as important as taking care of your family’s needs.

 

Achieving work-life balance is a challenge, but it can be done. Remember to look after yourself while you earn a living and care for your family, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Happiness can be achieved if you remember to take care for yourself while maintaining a well-rounded lifestyle.

 

 

 

October 20, 2017

Awesome insight from a woman at the top of her field

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Can you be a big corporate big wig and have a personal life? Can you stay at the top of your field as a woman, in a male-heavy industry?

Yes you can!

When Lonnie Maier spoke at Nova Southeastern University’s Women’s Success Series recently, the college students arrived eager hear what she had to say on those topics, and a good number of adults came to hear her, too.

Lonnie, vice president of Enterprise Sales and Marketing for Fibernet Direct, told the audience about her personal journey to become an executive at a leading national telecommunications company. Lonnie Maier is vice president of enterprise sales and marketing for Fibernet Direct, a company with operations throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States.

As a successful corporate executive, she had plenty of advice to share on work life balance and Bay O’Leary, a NSU associate professor, chair of the marketing department and one of the creators of the series asked her the right questions to draw out those pearls of wisdom:

On her biggest work life challenge….

Early in my career, I commuted to Miami from Fort Lauderdale. I was never late to work, but I was always late coming home. I would make a commitment to my family to be home by a certain time and then I would be late. At work, I never wanted to say no so I would take on more than I could chew and then I would be late. Eventually, I had to learn to prioritize my family so I didn’t continuously let them down. They would joke about “Lonnie’s time” referring to my being late all the time.

 

On giving herself a work life balance report card….

Giving myself a report card is tough. My daughters are 27 and 22 and when I look at them I would say I earn an A+ all the way. I am celebrating 35 years of being married so I get high grades there, too. When comes to work though, I am always trying to do more, and with me it’s never good enough. There is always another project, another result I want to achieve. I have high expectations of myself.

 

On advice to young women new in their careers….

Prioritize and don’t personalize. As young people new to business, we tend to say yes to everything. There comes a point where the only way you can become good at certain things is to say no to other things, in a nice way. Early in my career, if I wasn’t included in a meeting, I might personalize something. Eventually, I realized you can’t do everything and be included in everything. If want to be involved, I reach out. I wanted to get involved in economic development. I got involved. After a while, people would say, “Lonnie can you head up this committee?” I would have to say, “I have a full-time job and I need to focus on my job.”

 

On what she looks for in her team…..

People who can articulate why they are a good fit for the job. I look for candidates who are proud of their accomplishments.

 

On how she handles an employee who is struggling with work life balance…

I try to be flexible with schedules and offer ideas or solutions for problems. But if it becomes an ongoing issue, then I need to sit down and talk to that person.

 

On changes or cracks in the glass ceiling in Corporate America….

I have seen a willingness from men to listen more over the years. Still, I see lot of men at top and not as many women. My company was sold and when I met with prospective buyers, there were few that had women in decision-making seats. It was frustrating to see the glass ceiling was still there. We had a lot of women on our management team at FiberNet and we were getting things done. Overall, there are not many women at the top in telecommunications. It’s an opportunity. Young women should feel there are no limitations for them, just opportunities everywhere. It’s our job as leaders to help them see that.

 

On finding mentors…..

If you have problem, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. A lot of informal mentoring can take place just by asking. If you see someone with a similar path to the one you want to take, ask them questions. Often, women see asking questions as a weakness. The best way to show it is not a weakness is by being there for them when they need it.

 

On self-care….

 

I go on long walks and before I go bed, I take time to reflect and do my praying.

 

On personal work life choices….

 

I look at my friends in the C -suite and they don’t have kids. That was personal choice they made. At one point, when my boss retired I was told “you can become president” but I said “no thank you I like what I do.” You must know what you are good at and where you need to be to get the results. You don’t need to feel you must be at the top to lead a fulfilling career. 

 

On supporting other women…

 Whatever level you are at, you need to be supportive of other women. The people who propelled me, who pushed me the most were other women. You need a gang of girls around you to need to leverage their strengths. Don’t ever look at other females as competition.

 

Thanks Lonnie for awesome advice!

 

 

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Bay O'Leary asking Lonnie Maier about her experience in Corporate America

 

October 04, 2017

Investing in "What Matters" Over "Having it all"

 

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(From R to L: Monique , Paula Glickenhaus, Kathleen Procario, Claudia Chen)

 

 

A least 100 women are gathered in a conference room -- and two men.

We are waiting to listen to a panel discussion on Investing in "What Matters" over "Having it All" at the S.H.E. Summit Bacardi in Miami. The panel looks interesting to me as I gaze at the white board with bios on the speakers. And then, the discussion begins....

Here is what I take away from the conversation that follows:

1. Investing in your relationship with your spouse, partner, significant other should be high on your priority list. (It matters!)

The moderator is Claudia Chan, founder of SHE Summit and author of This IS How We Rise.  Claudia tells us she is struggling with raising a two year old, seven month old, writing a book,  keeping her marriage strong, and running her organization. I've heard discussions on work life balance many, many, many times. But Claudia brings up a point that rarely gets mentioned. She aims for balance not as an individual, but as part of a couple. Claudia prioritizes she and her husband "getting on the same page." When investing in what matters most, she considers her marriage her top priority.

"If you're good as a couple, your children will feel more confident when they see mom and dad in good place," she said. "Your relationship with your partner is your most important relationship."

2. Outsourcing will look different for each of us, depending on our income, but it can be crucial to having time for priorities. 

Panelist Paula GlickenhausVice President of Global Indirect Procurement with Bacardi Limited, travels often for her high-powered job. She has a grown daughter who is 22 and a son who is 9. To keep up with her many responsibilities, she exercises wherever she is in any way she can..."If I am in Miami, I swim. If I am in New York, I do yoga. If I am in Switzerland, I run." But to have me time, work time, spouse time and child time, Paula outsources. She outsources A LOT. "I do procurement ...so even at work I outsource everything I can." Paula said the goal of outsourcing is to ensure family time is the best quality it can be.

When prodded, Paula detailed exactly what she outsources:

  • Homework: "I can't help my kids with homework. I have no patience. So I find a tutor who can help them until the age they don’t need help anymore. I did it with my daughter and now with son."
  • Sports. "My son is good at soccer, but the coach said he needs to practice more. I found a coach online and recruited a few other kids in the same boat who can be coached as a group." 
  • Driving. "I have a nanny, but she is not full time. She picks my son up from school and takes him to activities."
  • Lunches. I tried to get my son to buy the school lunch but the quality came time and he wanted to bring a lunch box. Rather than take that extra half hour in the morning, I use FreshDirect to make his lunches. They also have some amazing snacks." 

3. Set your priorities one day at a time. 

Kathleen Procario, HR & Talent Management  for Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits, said you can’t do it all, so you need to start to focus on what’s most important today. Most of us wear many titles: sister, brother, husband, wife, friend, parent, employee. "We have to figure out which of those jobs matter right now," shw said.

 

4. Going "all in" at work is okay, but get your partner on board. 

Monique Catoggio runs a business from home. So does her husband who also is an entrepreneur. She wants to give her business a lot of attention, so does her husband. So they take turns with the home stuff to give the other person the ability to focus on work stuff.  "We both prioritize making our business profitable so we have learned to find harmony in our home," she said.

To keep that harmony, they speak up when they need something from the other. "When I see resistence, I tell him you're not supporting me in the way I need you to and we have to talk about it," she said. Monique said it can be challenging to find time for those conversations. "Usually when the kids go to bed, that’s our time.  Sometimes we have a heart-to-heart over TV shows."  The biggest risk is not communicating, she said. "Don’t let it get far down road."

5. Someone needs to deal with the logistics. They matter.

There are bills to pay, appointments to make, home repairs to deal with and supplies that need to be restocked. Someone has to handle the logistics of daily life and running a household. When there are children, the logistics rise exponentially. Those small things can build resentment if one person in a household feels he or she is handling a disproportionate amount. However, if the other person takes on the task, there can be no second guessing, or nit picking. "When you divide and conquer whatever your partner takes on, let them do it their way," Monique said.

 

6. Don't ask, tell.

Paula said she doesn't ask her husband if it's okay to go to the gym. She tells him when she is going. She doesn't ask her boss when she can take vacation. She tells him to put it on his calendar. Investing in what matters over having it all means asserting yourself to get what matters to you.

 

7. Take a pause, often.

People get stuck or feel overwhelmed because they don’t find time to understand themselves, Monique said. "We make ourselves busier than we should be."

That's why we need to create more moments of pause...to make time to figure out what matters most.

"It doesn’t have to be two hours. When you give yourself time to create clarity, you can think about what you want your relationship to feel like and if it's not the relationship you want, you can do something about it," she said.

 

While these business women might not have all the solutions, I think they had some great wisdom to share -- for both the men and women in the room!

 

 

September 27, 2017

How to take stuff off your schedule

 

Overwhelmed

A friend call me today to tell me she wants to do more networking to further her career. She has come up with a great idea for workshops she wants to offer, and now she wants to go out and meet the right people to hire her. 

I could certainly relate to her ambition. However, my friend has four children under the age of 10, which limits her free time and challenges her work life balance.

The first thing I told her is that she needs to figure out how much time each week she can devote to networking and she must get a clear idea of who she considers her ideal business target. Figuring that out takes some honest contemplation, a marketing plan, and a hard look at her weekly schedule. I told her she likely will need to take some existing tasks off her schedule if she wants to make time for networking.

"What? Take something off my schedule?" she asked me, surprised at my suggestion.  She confessed she didn't know where to begin. My friend's scenario is common. It's easy to say we want to do more of something - spend more time networking, hanging out with family, prospecting new customers - but taking tasks off our schedule to make it happen gets tricky. My conversation with my friend inspired me to create a guide for how to take tasks off your schedule. So, here are my five tips for how to do it.

  1. Take a really hard look at where you spend your time.

      Often, we waste hours on tasks like browsing Facebook or checking email. It's easy to fill up time when           you don't have a plan. Those wasted hours are the ones you want to take off your schedule. You then can       use that time for your high priority tasks.

 

       2. Know where you have flexibility and where you don't. 

       Be honest with yourself about what tasks you choose to do and which you must to do to keep your work         life balance and your sanity. Know where you have flexibility in your schedule, and where you don't. A        friend insisted she be the one to pick her child up from daycare  at 5 p.m. It led to numerous             confrontations with her boss. When she finally agreed to let her mother pick up her child, taking that        one task off her scheduled alleviated her stress level and improved her workplace relationships. 

      

       3. Figure out what you need to accomplish, and what you can outsource.

         Can you get someone else to do the driving to and from your children's soccer games? Can you ask an         assistant in your office to take over making copies? Can your spouse drive your child to school so you          can go to morning networking breakfasts?  Many successful networkers have the time to devote to it         because they are awesome outsourcers.

        4. Decide which tasks no longer have the meaning they once did.

        My friend is on the board of her local library. She has decided there are other, less time consuming ways         to be involved with the library. She has decided not to continue after her term is up. That will free up         time for her to network in new ways and new places.

 

        5. Get creative. 

        Technology creates the ability to do things differently, from paying bills to managing our calendars to         sending certain email directly into folders. By automating some of the things we do, we can take them         off our schedules.

 

 

The key to better time management is being honest with ourselves about how we spend our time, and being willing to make trade offs. Fall is one of the busiest times of the year. As you consider taking more on, it may be the ideal time to take stuff off your schedule, too.

September 20, 2017

What we learned from Hurricane Irma about losing internet

                             No-wifi

In the week after Hurricane Irma, life stood still. Power was out. Internet was down. People in Florida were on the verge of insanity. 

Many of us didn't know how to handle being disconnected from Wi Fi. And so, the true test of our obsession with connectivity began to emerge. 

Two days after the storm, my sister-in-law called to tell me she had set up a temporary office in Dunkin Donuts. My sister in law said couldn't stand hanging around in her hot home without power, television or Internet. So she took her daughter to the doughnut shop, which had wi fi,  handed her daughter an iPad and set up her laptop. "I'm back in business," she said, sounding as if she had just won the lottery.

Across town, I had friends who lived in areas where there was no where to go for Wi Fi because businesses in their area were without power and closed. Even when those friends called to tell me their power had come back on, they spoke as if they were completely out of sorts because they still had no Internet.

Yes, we are a nation that wants to be connected. As much as we complain about the fact that work follows us home, and as much as we complain about our lack of work life balance, we don't want to disconnect. Let's admit the truth: we have developed such a compulsion for checking email, googling information and texting from our devices that we don't know how to balance our lives without Internet service.

On the flip side, I had friends who relished the days while their offices were closed and the kids were home from school. Sure it was hard to get out of the daily work/school routine. But there was an upside to the post-Irma chaos in that it provided some quality time with family and friends.

Once there was a time when people chanted the lyrics, "I want my MTV."  I think the lesson we learned from Irma is we now want much more than our MTV. We want power. We want cell phone use. We want Internet. We want connectivity and we're willing to sacrifice some downtime, balance and maybe even some of our sanity to get it!

August 05, 2017

Inside a food truck and the struggle for work life balance

One day, I was walking around the Wynwood Second Saturday Art Walk when I came across Michael Kritikos and his The Original Greek food truck. His gyros were yummy and his smile was big, so I decided to find out a little more about the highs and lows of operating a food truck in South Florida.

Is it fun? What are the challenges? Do the rewards outweigh the challenges? Most important, how does a food truck owner find work life balance when every minute you are cooking and serving is money in your pocket and time off is lost income?

Michael had just returned from his first vacation in many years and had a lot to say about the challenges of running a mobile food business and balancing a personal life.

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Here is Michael set up and ready to serve his yummy Greek food at Wynwood's Second Saturday Art Walk. You can tell from this photo that he loves what he does for a living.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

June 27, 2017

When your co-worker takes vacation

In case you're keeping score, yes your co-worker just took two-weeks off and you're left to do his/her work. So what are you going to do about it?

You can easily become the person who stays late every night carrying a double workload. You can just as easily become the person who does only what's reasonable for your boss or clients to expect when you're a man down. 

Let's say you're the worker who wants to look like a team player and pick up the slack for your vacationing colleague. My advice is to proceed with caution. That's a dangerous road you're about to embark on. You want your clients to be understanding, your boss to think highly of you, your co-worker to cover for you when it's your turn to vacation. But, you don't want to be the go-to person who covers for everyone who takes a vacation. You certainly don't want to be the person who walks around the office resentful, snapping at anyone who dares to ask you a question because you're overwhelmed and overworked.

You may need to assess exactly what's expected. Is it just filling in for the person at a few meetings or handling all of their client calls. Is it short term, or could taking on someone else's responsibility for a few weeks lead to taking it on permanently. Yes, you definitely want to proceed with caution and have a conversation with your manager if necessary. Can that project wait for your co-worker to get back? Can you  

Now, there can be a positive for you. Summer can be a great time to put some energy in the work side of work life balance. Covering for a co-worker on vacation can help you get ahead by proving yourself.  Summer can also be ideal for pondering your desired future and trying out a role that interests you.

Most important, regardless of whether others take time off, don't be afraid to take your own vacation days. Even if you're the new guy or  have lots on your plate, you need time off to re-energize and the slower summer tend to be the perfect for it. Even if you don't go anywhere, or can't afford to travel, taking time off helps keep you positive.

According to Project Time Off, employees who take most or all of their vacation time each year perform better, are more productive and more satisfied in their jobs.

If you are the vacationing co-worker, think about how you can make life easier on others while you're gone. You might leave specific instructions about what you consider top priority and what can wait for your return. Taking vacation knowing you've done everything possible to help out co-workers left behind benefits everyone. Hopefully, your coworkers will show the same courtesy to you.

It's normal to worry what covering for a vacationing co-worker will do to your workload. Ask for notes, figure out what's reasonable and have a conversation with your manager ahead of time. With lots of people gearing up to take summer vacation, you don't want to be the sucker in the office stuck there until midnight.

 

June 13, 2017

Miami Lawyer Talks Work Life Balance and Pursuing Personal Passions

"If only I had time."

Often, people will talk to me about their passion or a hobby they want to pursue. They follow it by saying, "If I only had time." As I get older, I realize that we never FIND time for what we enjoy doing, we MAKE time.

Today, my guest blogger is Michael Reppas, a UM law school grad, practicing trial lawyer with Reppas Law , published author of 10 articles and book, antiquities expert on the theft of the Parthenon Scriptures, and a recording artist musician who just released an album, “Reppas” which can be heard on Spotify here. He is thoroughly involved in his Greek community in South Florida especially his church community. He also has published a book sold on Amazon and formed a music company with its own website, www.reppas.org. He does all of these things while practicing law.  

He clearly is someone who MAKES time for what he enjoys. 

I feel fortunate to have Michael Reppas share his insight for how he balances his job and his passions in life.

 

 

By Michael Reppas

RetouchedfinalcoverCROPED

 

Passion is not, necessarily, a blind and all consuming fervor that takes you over like a lunatic. It can be a motivating feeling that is slow and controlled and which leads you on a steady path forward. Never letting you forget what drives and compels you. Always there in the back of your mind. Always there while you are working every day from 8 to 6, or cutting grass on Saturday morning, or taking your kids to practice.  For me, I hear music in the written word and I am driven to tell my stories. I tell them through history lectures, through legal arguments, through historical fiction ---  and through lyrics and music. 

The question I invariably hear from my friends, colleagues, legal clients and (occasional) fans who read or listen to one of my works of music is this: “How do you find the time to do it?” My honest reply is the same: I don’t know, I just do it. And that answer is the absolute truth.

I am compelled to tell my stories. That is what fuels me and gives me balance. My chosen career as a trial lawyer is patently stressful. My home life is incredibly busy. There is very little “me” time, but I carve it out somehow. Every day I work on edits to my book or lyrics. I sing in the car (yes, I am the guy next to you playing air drums and singing his heart out).  I schedule a session with my producer at the studio once a month to get another song out.  Slowly and methodically I push forward to tell my stories. I never stop and I approach every day with the belief that, one way or another, I am going to make progress on my project du jour, and I do my very best to reach that goal every day. 

I have come to accept that, for now, I will simply not have a full and uninterrupted day to work on one of my passion projects and probably won’t until I retire. That being said, I am not willing or able to wait for a tomorrow that may never come, so I push myself every day. I let my soul breathe a little every day through writing and music.  It is how I meditate.  How I find balance.  It is how I survive in my busy and stressful life.  Without the creative element of storytelling in my life, I would not be whole. Without it, I would not be me.

Miami Lawyer Talks Work Life Balance and Pursuing Personal Passions

"If only I had time."

Often, people will talk to me about their passion or a hobby they want to pursue. They follow it by saying, "If I only had time." As I get older, I realize that we never FIND time for what we enjoy doing, we MAKE time.

Today, my guest blogger is Michael Reppas, a UM law school grad, practicing trial lawyer with Reppas Law , published author of 10 articles and book, antiquities expert on the theft of the Parthenon Scriptures, and a recording artist musician who just released an album, “Reppas” which can be heard on Spotify here. He is thoroughly involved in his Greek community in South Florida especially his church community. He also has published a book sold on Amazon and formed a music company with its own website, www.reppas.org. He does all of these things while practicing law.  

He clearly is someone who MAKES time for what he enjoys. 

I feel fortunate to have Michael Reppas share his insight for how he balances his job and his passions in life.

 

 

By Michael Reppas

RetouchedfinalcoverCROPED

 

Passion is not, necessarily, a blind and all consuming fervor that takes you over like a lunatic. It can be a motivating feeling that is slow and controlled and which leads you on a steady path forward. Never letting you forget what drives and compels you. Always there in the back of your mind. Always there while you are working every day from 8 to 6, or cutting grass on Saturday morning, or taking your kids to practice.  For me, I hear music in the written word and I am driven to tell my stories. I tell them through history lectures, through legal arguments, through historical fiction ---  and through lyrics and music. 

The question I invariably hear from my friends, colleagues, legal clients and (occasional) fans who read or listen to one of my works of music is this: “How do you find the time to do it?” My honest reply is the same: I don’t know, I just do it. And that answer is the absolute truth.

I am compelled to tell my stories. That is what fuels me and gives me balance. My chosen career as a trial lawyer is patently stressful. My home life is incredibly busy. There is very little “me” time, but I carve it out somehow. Every day I work on edits to my book or lyrics. I sing in the car (yes, I am the guy next to you playing air drums and singing his heart out).  I schedule a session with my producer at the studio once a month to get another song out.  Slowly and methodically I push forward to tell my stories. I never stop and I approach every day with the belief that, one way or another, I am going to make progress on my project du jour, and I do my very best to reach that goal every day. 

I have come to accept that, for now, I will simply not have a full and uninterrupted day to work on one of my passion projects and probably won’t until I retire. That being said, I am not willing or able to wait for a tomorrow that may never come, so I push myself every day. I let my soul breathe a little every day through writing and music.  It is how I meditate.  How I find balance.  It is how I survive in my busy and stressful life.  Without the creative element of storytelling in my life, I would not be whole. Without it, I would not be me.

June 09, 2017

The Latina Mother and Risk Taker Who is Disrupting the Entertainment Industry

I love to read about women who took risks in business. Bold risks. Risks that involved a work life sacrifice but eventually paid off. I figure you like to read those stories, too. Today, I am featuring Ana Benitez, President & Co-Founder of Storyrocket, a Miami company with a genius concept. Ana is a Cuban American mother of two who believes in dreaming big. She is disrupting the entertainment industry with her startup, an online marketplace that it allows writers to showcase their work to an audience of content-hungry producers. 

 

Meet Ana Benitez....

Ana

What is your Background?

I was born in Cuba and came to Miami as a two-year-old toddler.  We were not your typical Cuban family, I don’t remember much politics being discussed. At home it was all about education, it was ingrained that we would go to college and pursue a higher education. I don’t think we were ever given a choice. My father always said, “They can take away all you have (which Castro did, when he left Cuba) or lose a job, but no one will ever be able to take away your education.” My parents always reminded us that we could achieve anything we wanted with our hard work and determination. We were always encouraged to dream big and then road map it… in other words take steps every day to get there.

 

What is it like to be a Latina in the entertainment business?

It takes courage. But growing up in a family of immigrants you saw courage in action every day and it became part of my DNA. I think courage is vital to being an entrepreneur, whether or not you are a Latina. There are a million great ideas, but you have to have the courage to take action. I was taught that nothing is given to you for free. It is your responsibility to make it happen and live with no regrets. 

 

Your new company is Storyrocket...what is it?

Storyrocket is an online marketplace that connects great written works with the global production community that has a goal of producing for film, TV, theater or web. In the entertainment industry everything starts with a book or script.  So content is king, but content is all over the place. There is no one place that amalgamates and organizes content easily so that great written work is discovered, opted and produced.

How does it work?

Storyrocket is an open online marketplace with a free membership model where both writers and producers can enter their first project free of charge. Subsequent projects are fee-based ,with very accessible plans starting at $9.99 a month for up to 10 projects. Our site also has a social media component to it that allows you to promote your script outside of Storyrocket to as many people as possible. Storyrocket has the ability to create groups, that allow people to form collaboratives, which can add momentum to a project and also help to crowd source since some ideas will become indie projects that will need funding. It’s really the go-to place for both writers and producers.

How did the idea to launch Storyrocket come about?

It began three years ago with the realization by my partner, Ron Karasz that although he’s a great writer he has never been able to get his writing optioned because of the way “show business” works. It’s all about who you know and if you can attach a big name to your project. Getting representation by a reputable agent is like playing the chicken and the egg. Agents won’t represent you unless you have something already produced and the industry won’t look at your screenwriting without representation. Like Ron, we estimate there are hundreds of thousands of writers globally that are desperate to get their writings into the rights hands, but have nowhere to go.

On the flip side, I’m a two time Emmy-winning producer. In my field, we always say that there are not enough great written works out there. Big production companies spend thousands of hours vetting scripts sent to them by agents and many other sources. Nowadays, not only the traditional networks and studios are in competition for great content, but also companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon etc. who are producing great original movies, shows and series. This trend will continue to grow, again creating the need for more and more content.

How Is Storyrocket a game changer?

Storyrocket's robust search engine is a game changer. As a writer, you can get your work into the hands of content hungry producers. As a producer whether you're searching for a book, script or treatment, you can easily filter by genre, gender, location, era, etc. and can communicate directly with the content owner, or agent.  Production companies who used to spend a considerable amount of time and money vetting scripts from a multitude of sources, now have a one stop solution with Storyrocket.

What challenges are ahead?

Our goal is to have the largest collection of content in the world for the entertainment industry that is easily searchable from anywhere, 24/7.  We understand that great content transcends borders and is adaptable to multiple markets. This has prodded Storyrocket to begin the expansion of the site to multiple languages.  Having launched in English, it plans to be available in Spanish by the fall of 2017.  This will open the possibilities to huge production markets in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and Spain, among many others.  The long-term goal is to have the site available "in-language" for the top 15 film and TV producing countries of the world.

Will you self-finance your expansion in Phase II, or be looking for funding?

We will definitely be looking for investment funding  our next phase.  Recently eMerge Americas, the technology conference of the Americas where many tech trends are launched, invited Storyrocket to be one of its select Startup Showcase companies on June 12 & 13 in Miami

What tips would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Having self-financed this startup, I can tell you it hasn’t been easy, but it sure has been an exciting ride. No two days are the same. Each comes with its own priorities and there is no road map. It’s up to you to steer the company in the right direction. Start-ups are not for the faint of heart. It takes guts and determination to see it through from idea to reality. On the personal side, lots of meditation, envisioning the end-result, keeping a never-give-up attitude and a positive outlook no matter what.

As a mother of two, how have you been able to balance family and launching a company?

It took a lot of hard work and many years of willing to do more than was expected of me to get ahead. It was when I was at the top of my career creating the highest rating specials as senior producer of special events for Univision Network that I had to take a hard look at my life. During this time, I gave birth to my two sons. The intense work schedule and travelling commitments left little time for family, and even less time for me. I had a serious lack of balance in my life and for the first time I felt I was losing the joy. This is when I knew, I had to reinvent myself in order to have more flexibility and be able to be happy in all areas of my life. This took deep thinking and great courage.

Was it scary to leave a job you loved?

I left the network at the top of my career…with multiple nominations and 2 Emmy Awards, an executive position with high visibility, great pay and benefits and opened a marketing and entertainment agency Benitez Karasz, with my husband and partner, Ron Karasz. I re-invented myself and I have zero regrets. Benitez Karasz not only has provided me the with the flexibility I was looking for but it also expanded my expertise in the areas of talent management, marketing and events. We worked with Fortune 500 companies leveraging talent for marketing campaigns. After many years of success at Benitez Karasz it was time to start our new challenge. Today the same partnership has decided to disrupt the entertainment Industry with a win-win formula that helps both writers and producers, Storyrocket.

 

How are you different now that you've run your own business? Did it influence your willingness to take risk?

I’m much wiser, stronger and my tool box is much bigger. I’ve learned I can do it all with the right attitude, being organized, prioritizing, planning ahead, and focusing on the things that I do want.  I’m able to spend quality time with my family, travel, volunteer at my church, take care of my health, support emerging filmmakers and launch a startup. And, yes I’m very happy!”

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