Friday, March 27, 2009

Just what is a "Granpreneur"?

"I posted this comment on Entrepreneur this morning at a site called "Mompreneurs". I thought there should also be a term "Granpreneur", for retired grandmas who became business women."

Comment to pascalpublicity: "I loved your post on websites for new business women. I can totally relate, with a little twist. The twist is that I am 78 years old. I started my business 15 years ago, and found myself in the same predicament as you; not enough money to hire a web designer. I ended up learning how to do it myself on the internet, including writing HTML code. I designed my own site, at, which I have maintained for 15 years. I consider myself a "granpreneur" (a grandma entrepreneur) and want other retired women, who have gone on to second career, in business, to know that they can do it too!"

When I started in business, I knew absolutely nothing about creating websites, much less getting around on the internet. The closest I had come to it, as a teacher, was using an old Apple, the kind Bill Gates gave to the schools, when they became obsolete. They were actually word processors. You could not get on the internet with them, but you could could write a "mean" article and hone your typing skills. When I came to Louisville, I didn't even have a PC, but my daughters, who were computer savvy, told me I needed one, since I now had my own business. I was so "green" I didn't even realize I had to advertise to let people know I was here.

I had to think about a website for my business. I definitely couldn't hire a designer, I didn't have the money to do that. But what I did have was passion, determination and a strong work ethic. I could cook, garden, decorate, and learn just about anything! So, I knew I could do this. I was definitely not a business person; I had always been in the arts. Artists use their right brains and bus/tech people use their left brains. I soon learned to use both. And found myself switching back and forth with a fury.

First thing I did was buy a desk top computer ( Now I also have a laptop, which I take with me everywhere). Then, I made the decision to design and maintain my own website. My daughters had done it, why couldn't I? I went to and looked around. I found that I could build a website there using their editor, but I wanted to be my own webmaster. So, I learned to write HTML code. Who knew that I would love working on the computer with text and graphics for hours? Was I really a closet computer geek at heart? Maybe, maybe not. But there is one thing I know for sure. I am now a Granpreneur!
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Self Defense for Women

In a world where crime and violence are prevalent, it is extremely important that those, who may be at a disadvantage for being attacked, be able to exercise some control by learning strategies for defending themselves. One of the best ways to prepare yourself to fight off an attacker is to take a self-defense class. However, there are other strategies that may work just as well, with the idea in mind of de-escalating, rather than taking a chance of making things worse. The art of self defense includes much more than martial arts.

It is imperative that women understand the dangers in the art of self defense. Those who are threatened and fight back "in self-defense" may actually risk making a situation worse. The attacker, who is already edgy and pumped up on adrenaline, may become even more angry and violent.

Self-defense actually means doing everything possible to avoid fighting someone who threatens or attacks you. Self-defense is all about using your smarts — not your fists. The best way to handle any attack or threat of attack is to try to get away. This way, you're least likely to be injured.

Not everyone agrees on the best method of self defense; however, most would agree that a little bit of knowledge can definitely be a dangerous thing when it comes to defending oneself. One intelligent approach to thinking about self defense is to adopt the 5 Ds: Decide, Deter, Disrupt, Disengage, and Debrief, with Disengage being the most important component.

Deciding not to be a victim is the first step, along with planning and preparing for what to do if you find yourself in this situation. Deter is a preventative step. Don't foolishly put yourself in situations where an attacker can find you alone, with no one else around. Use your intuition. Be aware of your surroundings, and assertive in your body language and appearance. Disrupt your attacker. Shock or surprise him by fighting with everything you have. Kick him in the groin, gouge his eyes, use whatever weapons or sprays you might have, attack your attacker, with the sole purpose of getting away. Disengage by carrying out an exit strategy. Finally, Debrief by confronting and discussing the aggression. Promote emotional and physical healing, seek legal advice, support and assistance (information contributed by Erik Kondo at

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Women's history month...............the right to vote

The History of Women's Suffrage:

In the early 19th century, women were considered second class citizens, whose existence was limited to the interior life of the home and care of the children. Women were considered sub-sets of their husbands, and after marriage they did not have the right to own property, maintain their wages, or sign a contract, much less vote. It was expected that women be obedient wives, never to hold a thought or opinion independent of their husbands. It was considered improper for women to travel alone or to speak in public. With the belief that intense physical or intellectual activity would be injurious to the delicate female biology and reproductive system, women were taught to refrain from pursuing any serious education. Silently perched in their birdcages, women were considered merely objects of beauty, and were looked upon as intellectually and physically inferior to men. This belief in women's inferiority to men was further reinforced by organized religion which preached strict and well-defined sex roles.

Women Unite:

With the side-stepping of women's rights, women activists became enraged, and the American Equal Rights Association was established by Stanton and her colleagues in 1866 in effort to organize in the fight for women's rights. In 1868, the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment proved an affront to the women's movement, as it defined "citizenship" and "voters" as "male", and raised the question as to whether women were considered citizens of the United States at all. The exclusion of women was further reinforced with the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, which enfranchised black men.

In a disagreement over these Amendments, the women's movement split into two factions. In New York, Stanton and Anthony established the radical National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Henry Blackwell organized the more conservative American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) in Boston. These two groups later merged in 1890 to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) under the leadership of Elizabeth Stanton.

Winning the vote:

Susan B. Anthony was arrested for attempting to vote for Ulysses S. Grant in the 1872 presidential election. Six years later, in 1878, a Woman's Suffrage Amendment was introduced to U.S. Congress. With the formation of numerous groups, such as the Women's Christian Temperence Union (WCTU), the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) ,the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and, the Women's Trade Union League, the women's movement gained a full head of steam during the 1890's and early 1900's. The U.S. involvement in World War I in 1918 slowed down the suffrage campaign as women pitched in for the war effort. However, in 1919, after years of petitioning, picketing, and protest parades, the Nineteenth Amendment was passed by both houses of Congress and in 1920 it became ratified under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.

Equal rights amendment:

Upon this victory of the vote, the NAWSA disbanded as an organization, giving birth to the League of Women Voters. The vote was not enough to secure women's equal rights according to Alice Paul, founder of the National Woman's Party (NWP), who moved to take women's rights one step further by proposing the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) to Congress in 1923. This demand to eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender failed to pass.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I've been re-inventing myself my whole life

I came across an adage often voiced by Bonnie Price of, which rings so true to me "... we don't retire, we re-invent ourselves". I am 78 years old and have been re-inventing myself my whole life. I have never faded into the woodwork! I have approached each phase of my life proactively and made sure it was the best phase yet. I have learned how to leverage my past and present experiences and passions to design a present that is fulfilling.

I've had so many different careers that I would have lost count, if it weren't for the fact that each one was, and still is intrinsically enmeshed with all the others. I never understood why anyone would say that time spent taking classes that didn't have the name of your chosen profession written on them, or traveling, or experiencing life didn't prepare them for the future or was a waste of time. Everything you do prepares you for the future. It depends on how you look at it and what you do with it, whether or not it turns out to be a waste of time.

I have had very few, if any, life experiences that I didn't learn something from, even the negative ones. I've had three divorces, breast cancer, and lost a husband to suicide. I survived an abusive relationship, the loss of a relationship with a child, and the financial loss of just about everything. I truly believe that all of these experiences contributed to making me the strong, independent woman I am today. Although I can take life pretty seriously at times, I was born with an optimistic outlook, sense of humor, and the ability to rise above some of the darkest moments. The trick is to come out with something I can use to continue my life's journey, from one situation to another; from one career to another; from one encounter to another.

I inherited a very strong work ethic, in fact, you might say I'm a workaholic. I love to work! I remember my very first paying job, in Detroit. I was 16 years old and it was for a department store. I worked in the credit department, on a machine, posting payments. It only seems boring to me now, but ,at the time, I loved it. I went on to work for the phone company, for a small vacuum company, General Motors, The Bank of Detroit, and on and on. I picked up all kinds of skills, many of which centered around writing and music. My father was a musician. I started singing with his band in high school and continued singing throughout my life. That was my night job

I went to college and studied art, psychology, anthropology, English, languages, and music. I got divorced and married again, several times. I modeled, I taught modeling and voice over communications. I got several degrees and taught music, English, and English as a second language in the Chicago Public schools. I picked up a Master's degree in Special Education and moonlighted as a hostess in a night club where Frank Sinatra used to hang out, and taught English to Spanish speaking people in night school at one of the local colleges. I took a sabbatical and went back to the University to get a PhD in education, during which time I taught University grad students while I went each morning for radiation for 8 weeks to rid my body of cancer cells.

I managed to fit in Traveling to Europe (several times), Africa, Mexico, and the Galapagos Islands. I've lived in Detroit, Tampa, Dallas, California, Chicago and Kentucky. And everything I've done, everything that has happened to me, has contributed to who I am today. You may be surprized to find out that I am now an Innkeeper. I own my own bed and breakfast. I've learned a lot about people since I started this business and even more about myself. I became an employer, for the first time ( which was more difficult than I anticipated) and I've learned how to run and market my own business. I have, again, re-invented myself, utilizing the planning, organizing, social and worldly skills I picked up along the way.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How did this happen? Was I destined to be a business woman?

Despite the fact that my grandmother, my mother, and my mother's sister were successful business woman, being one myself was always the furthest thing from my mind. Now I'm wondering if it was in my blood. Both my daughters are in business, not necessarily for themselves. But, nevertheless, they are in business.

In undergrad school, I changed my major several times, from art, to English, to education, to English, to music. I ended up with a degree in music education, all the time saying "I will never go into business"! I have always loved the arts and have dabbled in all of them, including theater and dance. As many of my friends went to business school and started climbing the corporate ladder, I stuck to my guns, "I will never go into business".

My grandmother was a crackerjack business woman and owned four rooming houses in Detroit, all at the same time. My mother was a realtor and had her own real estate business, and my aunt was a successful stock broker. But, watching them work long hours and go through all the ups and downs of having their own businesses only re-enforced my determination not to succumb to the lure of what turned out for many to be a profitable career.

I wanted to create! Of course, I didn't realize you could create in business. In fact, some of the most creative people are in business. Look at Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and, not so well known, Mark
Breitbard, chief merchandising and creative officer at Old Navy. “Mark is an amazingly talented retailer — and we’re thrilled he’s joining us to infuse an even higher level of creative spirit to the Old Navy brand,” said Tom Wyatt, President of Old Navy. “Both within Gap Inc. and at other top specialty apparel retailers, he has achieved success creating clothes for each member of our target customer’s family.”

Well, anyway, to make a long story short. I woke up one day, around 15 years ago, and I was the owner of a small bed and
breakfast in Louisville Kentucky. It all came to be by happenstance. It was very straight forward. I wanted this house, a 4008 sq ft historic, Victorian brick with five bedrooms. I had to justify buying a house that large for myself ( I live alone). I needed a business I could run from home in order to afford the house, which as it happens, certainly lent itself to becoming a bed and breakfast. Voila! You're an Innkeeper!

And how did you get into business? Did you go to business school, did you follow in your family's footsteps or did you just fall into it like I did?