When starting your own big thing you will encounter times you need to give feedback. When you have the opportunity to give feedback you should keep in mind Gibb’s supportive behaviors:

Description:  Make sure you focus on describing very specific behavior so the person can repeat the behavior if it is positive feedback you are providing or isolate the behavior if it is negative feedback.

Problem Orientation: Focus on the task  not on the person! Most importantly focus on behavior they can change versus labeling them.

Can't you stand up straight!

Spontaneity: Give feedback in the moment when you see the behavior. Make it relevant!

Empathy: Make sure you show concern for others. Make sure you take the perspective of the person you are giving feedback!

Equality:  Beware of little status differences, say “we,” “us,” “our” versus owning your feedback and using I and coming from a place of equality.

Provisionalism: Finally be tentative/flexible: “We could . . . One way we might do that is . .  or I think this is what is happening…Remember things are not always what they seem!

“The floor is flat”

 Go out and Live your BIG life! Give positive feedback when you can and always give feedback it is a gift!


There is the old saying when it comes to a breakfast of ham and egg the hen is involved and the pig  is committed. Commitment is the key to being a success at almost anything. It is essential for the entrepreneur.  As an entrepreneur when you are sick, busy, or wanting to go on vacation there is no one else to answer the phone, sell the product or otherwise mind the shop. You can’t delegate your responsibilities. You may have other people who are a part of your business.  However the entrepreneur is where the accountability ultimately lies.

Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the “right stuff” to turn our dreams into reality.

 James Womack

What ways do you stay commited?

Tools to Help You with Your Website

Happy Fourth of July!

Many entrepreneurs ask me questions about SEO and websites. This weekend while celebrating the Fourth I gathered with some fellow entrepreneurs and we discussed our websites. While I am no expert I love to share what I know and the tools I have found helpful.

One tool I love is Hubspots’s website grader.  This free site gives you up to date advice in how to improve your site. It assigns a “grade” which being a type A personality I love to follow the suggestions it provides to improve my grade.

Another site I like is backlink watch This site is also free and provides you with details on what backlinks you have and the page ranks of these back links.

Also check out Downloading the Alexa toolbar allows you to see your traffic rank. It is a free tool that not only lets you watch traffic ranks for your site but others as well.

For  Ipad users and owners you should check out all the great SEO apps! For less than five dollars each you can get some great stats on your site. I love SEO Ranking. It tells me my keywords and how my site is doing for those words. There is also an SEO course. It contains short videos to help educate you quickly on how to improve your position in search engines.

What tools do you like? Please share. As entrepreneurs we often have to wear many hats. I know for this entrepreneur I am loving my new role of understanding SEO.

Meet Female Entrepreneur Lisa Renda!


Lisa Renda
President and Founder, BPA Quality

How important have good employees been to your success?

I believe BPA’s success can be linked to not just excellent employees but also “good” employees.  When developing a business we can all agree that we want to make sure our organization is surrounded with excellent talent and that our employees are second to none. As BPA UK spread to the opening of BPA US, we learned pretty early on that recruiting excellent employees was not enough,-we didn’t want BPA to just be known for excellent output,-we wanted our clients to also enjoy working with BPA staff and to feel that they were dealing with “good” honest people who cared.  We work hard at creating a team that is undoubtedly excellent in their field but one which also shares common ideals and a sense of integrity.  We strongly feel that our commitment to this combination of “excellent” and “good” helps distinguish us in the marketplace.

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?

Do your research so you don’t have to take it personally! As an entrepreneur, your ideas, products and concepts are wide open to public scrutiny and sometimes even criticism.  Concepts, products or ideas that have been tested and researched thoroughly allow you to logically respond to questions and even possible negative perceptions in an objective and educated manner.  Don’t make it about you - make it about what your product or idea can offer!

Don’t give up.  If your research shows that your product or idea is a winner, then don’t give up.  Things might not always happen according to schedule but if all logical and objective information shows that you are onto a good thing then keep on working at it.  Remember, if being an entrepreneur was easy - -wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Be positive, calm and logical. Re-assess when things don’t go as planned.  Drawing on personal experience, BPA has a wealth of experience in the travel industry.  Our clients represent  major airline, hotel, cruise,  and car rental chains worldwide. We have a strong reputation in this arena and have always been very been very proud of this experience. However, in the initial aftermath of 9/11 the travel industry was severely shaken and, in turn, our business was suddenly confronted with an extreme and completely unpredictable challenge, happening virtually overnight.  Our team worked hard to stay focused and positive as we sought to expand our expertise and client base into other industries.  While BPA still maintains a strong reputation in the travel industry, we have now acheived a similar reputation among many diverse industries.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

1.The commitment to stay positive.  Being an entrepreneur is exciting, challenging  and rewarding. But be prepared, things won’t always be easy.  Be positive and stay focused on your goals. Being positive is a choice that requires commitment.  It does not always come naturally.

2.The ability to be objective. A successful entrepreneur needs to be able to look at themselves and their products/ideas objectively.  Don’t be proud, be realistic.  Great things can be achieved from an “honest”  look in the mirror!

3.Tenacity - Don’t give up!  Constantly assess your performance and goals to make sure you are on target,but don’t give up. Successful entrepreneurs never do!

How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

If you are working as hard as you can and there is little or no movement with your idea, it’s probably time to re-assess your strategy and/or your idea.  This doesn’t necessarily mean giving up, but you may need to tweak your product/idea, change your advertising or marketing strategy.  Tenacity is important provided your approach to “sticking with an idea” is based on solid research which supports your hard work.

Is your company profitable or what is your profit for last year?

BPA is profitable and was highlighted on the 2010 Inc. 500|5000 list of America’s fastest growing companies.  We hope to make the list again for 2011!

Little Tips for Starting Your Own BIG Thing!

My message today is a departure from my entrepreneur series.  I had a request from a client to review with their employees email etiquette. It is a really dry topic but one we probably all can benefit from an occasional reminder!  The words we chose to convey our message whether in person or in writing matter.

An Example

I heard a story once about a military Sargent whose job entailed distributing apricots at the end of the lunch time. Being bored with this seemingly trivial task,  he varied how he presented the apricots. Sometimes he would say, “You don’t want any apricots do you?”  The person met with this response generally did not take any apricots. Sometimes he would say,  ”Would you likes some apricots?”  This question led to more soldiers having apricots. Finally he tried, “Would you like one or two servings of apricots?”  This led to the highest take rate of apricots! Almost double the amount of apricots were selected then when asked “You don’t want any apricots do you?”

As we review email tips remember the words you chose are important when talking with your clients, contacts, customers, and employees!

Email Tips!

  • Always consider who you are sending your email message. How do they like to be addressed? Are they formal in their email or more casual?
  • Always review your message content before you send it out.
  • Use polite terms like please and thank-you, hello and goodbye, etc.  When you are in doubt it is always good to be more formal!
  • Always have a title to your message. Try to make sure it is a relevant title. This is important when forwarding.
  • If you forward a message to somebody else to deal with, tell the original sender so they know who to expect a reply from.
  • Do use emphasis where its useful to do so.
  • Never  reply to an email message when angry , as you may regret it later. Once the message has been sent, you will not be able to recover it.
  • Don’t type in CAPITALS as this is considered to be SHOUTING.
  • Don’t make personal remarks about third parties. Email messages can be easily forwarded or misdirected.
  • Don’t send unsuitable email or attachments, especially anything of a sexual nature as they may well be found by a third-party later.
  • Never, ever, use scanned images in a signature as these tend to be very large. Be careful of large attachments of any kind.
  • Don’t mark things as urgent if they aren’t, because then when you really do have an urgent message it may not be treated as such.
  • Be careful when adding recipients I recently had a client add an unintended recipient to an email. They shared confidential information with a third-party.
  • Use spell check! Always reread your message incase words are auto corrected inappropriately.

Today when you write an email think of the apricot story! Chose your words carefully and double your results!

For more inspiration check out:

Get Your BIG On Start BIG

Yesterday you heard Jane’s story that launched Get Your BIG On. Today it is my turn to share with you how it all began for me.

As far back as I can remember I have been goal driven. I worked my way through college holding down two jobs. I completed my degree graduating Magna Cum Laude. I won a full scholarship to pursue my masters degree. I completed that degree Summa Cum Laude while still continuing to hold down two jobs.  Once I had my masters I jumped into corporate America. I worked hard to move up the corporate ladder and did. I have always had the drive to own my own business.  I am first and foremost an entrepreneur and inventor. I am the daughter of a prolific inventor and entrepreneur. My father always encouraged his kids to start their own businesses. Three of his four children are entrepreneurs.

Starting BIG

In 1999 I left corporate America and started my own consulting firm, A-Squared Consulting. I am proud to say we were successful. We always operated in the black and always had plenty of business. My clients list was impressive: Adelphia, Vonage, and Comcast, to mention just a few.

In June of 2010 I was compelled to merge my company with Jane Perdue’s (a former boss, client, and current mentor).   Jane shared her story of the pivotal moment when her boss refered to her as Aunt Polly.  This story hit a cord. You see I also had the proverbial whack on the head.

My Whack On the Head

A-Squared consulting did sales training at the company where my husband is CEO.  One day  I was introduced to a new senior leader who had just joined my husband’s team. After my role of sales consultant was explained, he commented to my husband, “How nice you given the ‘little woman’ something to keep her busy!” I was speechless! I don’t find myself speechless very often. I wanted to say well I agreed to work with this company to help my husband. My other clients are all fortune 500 companies.  The next few responses that came to me are not G rated!  Any of the potential retorts that came to my head, however deserved, felt really shallow. I decided I will not say anything but I will let my actions and results prove I had not been “given” anything. 

I believe most people have had that time in their life where someone intentionally or unintentionally tried to make them feel little. For me Get Your BIG On is about helping people get past those moments and push through to live their BIG dream. When Jane contacted me I came to the conclusion that I had realized my dream and now it is time to give back and help others. I want to share how my dad inspired me to Start BIG! Give others the moxie to help them reach out for their dreams!

Get Your BIG on is designed to help you succeed in achieving YOUR dream. Your dream can be starting a company or simply starting a project. As the President of the Braithewaite Innovation Group, I get the chance to interact daily with people who are starting entrepreneurial adventures. I love to encourage them, help them find their market, and connect them with others who are chasing their dream. Please spend some time on our site See what we have to offer. If there is something you need help with we are happy to help! My new dream is to help others see a new possibility, a new connection or relationship that will spark the next great invention or business.

Get Your Big On Explained

The following is a guest post from my business partner, Jane Perdue. It explains the genesis of Get Your Big On. On Friday I will share my Live BIG Story!

For 15 years I thought I was living the dream after achieving my goal of becoming a Vice President for Fortune 100 companies. I was perpetually on the lookout for the next big title, big project and big deal. Then, after a merger, a new boss described me as “Aunt Polly” to the new firm’s CEO. He failed to mention all the impossible assignments delivered ahead of time and below budget, cultures transformed, 80-hour work weeks - not a word about of that, just “Aunt Polly.”

I was astonished and asked him what he meant. He said it meant that people viewed me as someone they could sit down beside in a rocking chair, pour out their issues, then get inspired with a plan and go back to work. The acquiring company was male dominated, lots of mavericks and cowboys dolled up as GQ cover boys. And I had been introduced to them as Aunt Polly. Aunt Polly took up unwanted residence in my heart and head in the succeeding months. I wrestled with her, and her demeaning (to me) introduction to the highest echelons of power within the new organization, almost daily. I made sure the work of my department was brilliant, on point and above reproach. Let’s show those fellas what ole Aunt Polly can do.

Yet Aunt Polly was a cosmic two-by-four, delivering a whack across my head and to my heart, opening internal doors corporate life had long ago sealed shut. Aunt Polly forced me to revisit my childhood goals of making a difference. Sure, by corporate standards I had made a difference. However, in terms of making a real and meaningful impact on someone’s life, rather than just making a buck, had I really made a difference? That was the question Aunt Polly kept whispering. She had become my constant mental companion, forcing me gaze into the picture of my life. Forcing me to examine my contributions in another light. Relentlessly forcing me to probe deeper, revisit my values, assess my purpose. Damn that woman and damn my boss for putting her there.

It took me a long time to understand that I had been chasing the wrong big. My right big was knowing myself, my strengths, what was important to me, and then using that knowledge and years of experience to help other people grow wings and get their big on.

Getting your big on is that “just right” feeling you have in your head and heart when you know what’s important to you - and you are going after it. Your big might be something tangible like a promotion or starting your own business. Or it could be something intangible like volunteering or inspiring others. Either way, you’re going after something that matters - BIG time - to you.

My boss had really given me a compliment, a gift, one that took me a long time to recognize and appreciate. So I left Corporate America to run a female-owned professional development firm where we bring seekers and solvers together to lead big, work big and live big. To be closer to family, we moved from the West Coast to the south, where sweet tea is the house wine - and Aunt Polly’s inspirational beverage of choice in helping others get their big on.

Start BIG Entrepreneurs Give Back and Go Green

Meet Paperfeet by TOMBOLO - the world’s thinnest flexible sandal, pocket ready for your next adventure. Jimmy Tomczak invented the  patent-pending minimalist art sandals from a process that upcycles  billboard sheet plastic into functional outdoor gear.

Jimmy was using a huge McDonald’s advertisement to keep a leaky roof dry when the idea came to him to use the material for alternative uses. An outdoorsman himself, Jimmy always loved the beach and a good barefoot trek and had his eye on those foot-glove shoes and other barefoot footwear that were all unfortunately out of his budget. The next best thing was to create a pair himself. He put the simple sandals for sale on Paperfeet and less than a year later the shoes have been shipped around the world, featured in national media like WSJ, BoingBoing, and FOX and more. His next project is a Kickstarter campaign to scale production in the USA using local, ethical labor.

Here is some advice Jimmy has for aspiring entrepreneurs:

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?

1) Seek and find available resources: Do whatever you can to talk with professors, mentors, fellow peers and their networks early and often. College-specific programs, classes, centers and similar are all incredible resources that are less available once you graduate too.

2) Apply for business competitions and programs that are only available to college students. I applied for hundreds of independent scholarships before graduating high school. Combined with working before and after my classes in college, I eventually earned enough from just a handful of the scholarships I won to pay my way through school. Don’t miss a window of opportunity for free money that is restricted to your student status.

3) Start a business. Learn by doing. The best way to become an entrepreneur is to have a product, find a customer, and start making sales! Fail fast and often but make sure these are intelligent failures in that you can apply everything you learned in missing the mark to exceeding expectations the next time around.


Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Absolutely not. Even a seasoned entrepreneur can work hard and achieve near-perfection only to have the rug pulled out from under them by an unforeseen market shift or other anomaly. I graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Neuroscience and I also completed the Program in Entrepreneurship.

In addition to Michigan’s business school, U-M’s entrepreneurship program has been growing strong but I still remember what I first thought after meeting someone who wanted to “major in entrepreneurship.” “Entrepreneur” is the title some people give themselves after they’ve achieved what they previously defined as success, and as validated by an external party. There’s no such thing as an entrepreneurship major. Learn the basics, sure, but applying creative problem solving and time management to an uncanny ability to complete innovative projects with speed and clarity is the best “formula” for entrepreneurial success that I know. Do what works for you!

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Creativity. Ability to get stuff done. Advanced networking skills.

Creativity, like entrepreneurship, is a challenging subject to “teach.” But many argue that a creative mind is the most valuable asset a person can have. Combining rare creativity with the ability to break down a problem into manageable steps and an executable solution helps make a successful entrepreneur. Factor in real networking, where collaboration happens and relationships are built beyond business cards, and you’ll have the winning skill set of a successful entrepreneur. Always remember, success is what you define it as, and optimizing your own unique abilities that you already have will get you there faster than any advice you read. Best of luck.

How did the idea for your business come about?

I founded TOMBOLO, maker of uncommon goods for the collective good after inventing “paperfeet” – minimalist sandals made from up-cycled outdoor advertisement material. At the time, I had a leaky roof and couldn’t afford a full repair. One of the contractors that gave me a quote said that his company sometimes used giant billboard vinyl sheets as durable, waterproof tarps. I cold called several ad companies and eventually found a full 14 x 48 foot sign sheet that functioned as the perfect roof tarp for the winter.

The following year I revisited an early idea I had of making paper-thin sandals from Tyvek – the puncture-proof material used for shipping envelopes. Tyvek failed but the billboard worked surprisingly well for the first edition of what would eventually become the retail-ready paperfeet of today. In less than a year, the hand-made billboard shoes have been shipped around the world and featured in national media. But to take things to the next level and scale manufacturing I’m launching a Kickstarter community project to raise the funds needed to do volume production here in the United States.  

Entrepreneurs who Start BIG

Over the last two weeks I have been inundated with stories of entrepreneurs who are Starting BIG! I find myself inspired daily by the stories I am receiving.  Many have overcome major obstacles. This week I featured one of those big stories as my pick of the week on Get Your BIG On. I thought I would share his story here as well. I am able to tell you a bit more about him in this post.

David Alan Slockblower (aka David Alan) is an inventor/entrepreneur/professional stand-up comic/artist who has had and lost millions. He has been featured in People Magazine, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Joe Franklin Show, the CBS Early Show, and dozens of local and regional television news shows. He has fought and won a 13-year battle with alcoholism and drug addiction and have endured major surgeries to recover from near-total disability. This inventor and entrepreneur is launching a new product. The project is his patented EZ Shopper invention, which is something that literally EVERYBODY can use.

Additionally David says “After a 20-year failed marriage, I have been blessed to reconnect with “the one that got away” from over thirty years ago and am now happily married to her. With her love, support, and encouragement I have once again tapped into the flow of creative energy that had been dulled by drugs, alcohol, and depression. Good story, huh? Best part is that it’s ALL TRUE. In order to finance my current project/dream, my new bride and I have exhausted all of our resources, including her entire retirement account from a 20-year career as a published research scientist with Novartis/Sandoz Corporation. The project is my patented _EZ Shopper_ invention, which is something that literally EVERYBODY can use and benefit from.”

A common theme among the stories I have received is that once the entrepreneur commits completely to the project either financially, emotionally or both that is when it succeeds.

You can learn more about this entrepreneur who has overcome great odds.


If you are an entrepreneur and can help, read here!

Today I want to tell you about a potential exciting endeavor Start BIG is considering.

We have been approached to provide training for female entrepreneurs in Kenya. If you have experience with Kenya and entrepreneurship I would love to hear from you. I am in the process of creating courses and handouts. I am seeking information on Kenya.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.