The Star Tribune came out with the 2011 Executive Compensation Report on June 19 where it listed the 100 highest-paid Minnesota CEOs. Guess how many were women?
Guess how many women made the top 20?
So here I am, staring at a cover page with 20 male headshots staring back at me and I’m thinking, “What is wrong with this picture?”
Today’s A List is a tribute to women—the 10 women who, from a business perspective, I value and credit for helping me become the business owner I am today. Some of these women may not even realize that I consider them influential parts of my career (surprise!).
These women don’t take home salaries in the millions. They don’t bank huge bonuses and stock options. But they have helped me get to where I stand today. And to me, that’s worth a heck of a lot more than big payouts.
The list is in nothing more than alphabetical order. There is no rank; they are all equally valued. If available, I’ve linked their names to their Twitter handles.
Get to know these ladies. You’ll be glad you did.
Crystal Colvin Being a working mom is damn hard. Crystal is the reason I get work done during “regular” working hours. She takes care of all four of my crazy kids during the week and has always been wonderfully flexible with her time if I need her to be. It’s hard enough to go to work each day and lose the working mom guilt. Crystal is wonderful with my kids, keeps them occupied with daily art activities and makes sure they’re always safe.
Jenna Brower My former college roommate. My best bud. Our former nanny. Jenna rocks. She, too, is credited with being the caregiver for our children while I work. She was supportive of our situation when my husband was laid off and remained flexible with her schedule to accommodate my own crazy business needs. Each day she packed up herself and her own daughter and made the trek to our house so I could keep working from my home office. She is always the support I need.
Jennifer Kane Jennifer has been “on it” since the day I met her (not that my meeting her gave her the great “on it” epiphany…she’s been rockin’ that for quite some time). Initially introduced to me by Kary Delaria, Jen has been a huge influencer in my career providing tremendous opportunities for learning, engagement, networking and project collaboration. She may not even realize that through the events she has planned, workshops she’s taught and book club’s she’s hosted that I have made connections I otherwise would not have in this industry. Jen opens doors for people without even realizing it; she’s good stuff.
Jennifer Keuler Mrs. Keuler (that’s right, because her influence on me happened in school and I have never called her by her first name) was my inspiration for pursing a career that would allow me to write. By far my favorite teacher during my middle school years, Mrs. Keuler was the teacher who always knew what to say, always had fun ways of getting you to learn and always encouraged you to pursue your passions. Mrs. Keuler took time to read many of my short stories un-related to school assignments. She introduced me to School House Rock (check the video), Edgar Allan Poe and the poetic music of Jackson Browne. Don’t worry, Mrs. K., I’ll get that first book published some day.
Judi Walsh Another teacher of mine, this time high school. Mrs. Walsh was my very first business teacher (and I pretty much chose all my elective marketing and communications classes because she was the instructor). Mrs. Walsh had a way of teaching that always left me motivated thinking, “Yes, that will totally be me someday” as she walked us through business success stories and examples. Mrs. Walsh spent time with her students after school helping us prep for DECA (an international association of marketing students) competitions and even ventured with us to Colorado during one of those weekend events. We may have annoyed the pants off her sometimes (what high school student wouldn’t?) but I sure am thankful to have been a part of the classes she taught. Some of the basic marketing fundamentals I follow to this day were learned in her classes at DeForest High.
Kary Delaria I met Kary through MWMC (Minnesota Women in Marketing and Communications). She was the person who gave me my first shot at serving in a leadership role for a professional organization in my field. Because of Kary’s own leadership, I grew as a member of MWMC and as a Board member for the organization. Kary is organized, super smart and awesome at what she does. Kary worked with me during a time when my own personal life was wicked crazy (having babies does that to you sometimes) and I am grateful for the expansion my own network has seen because of her direct and indirect influences.
Renee Dubs Renee is someone I connected with at the beginning of my career. Straight out of college, I was charged with producing all alumni content for Dunwoody College of Technology. On a whim, I contacted Renee because I loved the work she did for DeLaSalle High School’s alumni publications. Long story short, I chose Renee’s company to help with publication layout and design, continued to use her services when she was asked to head up the design department at Sexton Printing, and some how was lucky enough to have her provide my brand identity system when I first started out in business as Harrison Communications–free of charge! Renee works her tail off and has been a wonderful source for design mentorship and inspiration.
Renita Van Dusen Renita oozes creativity. She is another design mentor of mine. What I love most about Renita is her ability to pull ideas out of people’s heads. She is wonderful at setting up brainstorming sessions and really conceptualizing what you’re trying to portray. I first met Renita while doing work for New Moon Magazine and eventually teamed with her when it came time to rebrand my own business. And as a small business owner herself, Renita has always been helpful when it comes to getting together for lunch, a cup of coffee or a quick email exchange to bounce around ideas and talk about the trials and tribulations of running our own shows.
Sarah Sladek I first met Sarah when she was MWMC Board President. (If MWMC was a person, I would credit her on this list as well; I have built such a wonderful network of women colleagues, experts and friends from this group). Since then, I have been fortunate to collaborate with Sarah on client projects. She is up front and tells you like it is; she doesn’t hide from the realities of running a small business. I admire Sarah’s drive to always be moving herself to the next level.
Tracy Rowe Most of you may not know this, but I moonlight as a certified group fitness instructor in the wee morning hours and late evenings at Inspiration Fitness. And although it does not have a direct affect on my company, it has done wonders for my stress relief and health. I attribute my success and love for fitness to Tracy Rowe. Tracy is the reason I started getting my butt up at 5 a.m. every morning to work out. She’s the reason I became certified in group fitness (after about a year of coaxing). She’s the woman I seek ideas from when it comes to health and fitness. She is motivating, inspiring and just a great person to grab a cup of coffee with.
So thank you, ladies! Whether you realize it or not, the work that you do not only helps pay the bills, but it provides for other women out here in ways that are immeasurable. Thank you, for helping me continuously grow in my career, in my business. Thank you for your inspiration, your support and your wit.
Thank you, for being my top CEOs.