Seminole Chronicle September 9, 2009
Organization aims to help women help each other
By Amy K.D. Tobik
As long-time friends soaked up the sun at South Beach in attempt to escape their high-powered corporate jobs for a few days, they couldn't help but talk business.
Lanette Jarvis, who worked as a regional vice president in the restaurant industry for nearly 30 years, said they couldn't stop discussing how men and women approach business so differently.
"A woman will stand up and say her 30-second commercial, and at the end of it a man will say, 'This is what I need from you.' 99 percent of the time, a woman will not ask for help," Jarvis said.
A male mortgage broker, Jarvis said, will tell you that you need to use him for a mortgage or ask you to find someone else who needs financing, for example, while a female broker will say she would really love to provide a mortgage and hope someone picked up on her appeal.
Eva Krzewinski, owner of The Training Workz, a professional corporate training company, agreed. "Men know how to ask for something and women beat around the bush," she said.
As they lay with their feet in the sand, they concluded that most women need to learn how ask for help if they want to seriously compete in the market. They need to fine tune the art of networking.
While these women had already spent five years successfully organizing local corporate power lunches to help promote their own businesses, they wanted to take their lunches to the next level and help more women.
Friend Denice Brown was a natural fit for the planning committee with her 30 years experience as a personnel consultant and owner of a staffing firm.
Together the team vowed to educate, connect and inspire women with resources to enhance their lives professionally and socially - one woman at a time.
Last year, the trio formed a service organization called Pearls for Women. It seemed only right, they said, to name it after something as feminine as a fine pearl that develops over time.
With the help of community sponsor, Stein Mart, Pearls for Women is presenting several evening workshops this fall as part of their "University of You" series.
This month, women can learn how to properly present themselves and obtain trust and respect, resulting in positive community connections.
In October, women will learn how to speak clearly and confidently about themselves to better promote their best qualities.
In light of the current financial market, a workshop will be offered in November to advise women how to better handle their money, especially as the market improves.
The workshops will be coupled with Wise Wednesdays, an educational afternoon workshop focused on helping women get back to basics.
Jarvis said their goal is to make women understand that as long as they push each other aside in the race for the top, they are actually harming their own chances for continued success.
"We are told that we have to compete with each other because there are so few slots at the top for women, so we learn bad habits. We want to teach women that the reason men are so successful sometimes is that men help each other," Jarvis said.
Jarvis said their workshops typically attract about 70 percent small business owners and 30 percent women undergoing some sort of transition in their life, such as a job layoff, death in the family, divorce or empty nest syndrome.
These women, she said, are looking to improve their skills to better connect in the world.
"We are going into a time of transition, and women handle it differently," Jarvis said. "In reality, we are all in transition all the time, whether it's a bad economy or not. Women are always trying to do their business better, they're always trying to secure and stabilize their careers, so instead of concentrating on people only in transition, we thought we would concentrate on saving lives."
Women who want to make connections and currently cannot pay for a workshop are still encouraged to contact them.
Krzewinski stressed the importance of networking and the dangers of becoming too insular.
"Some women who were laid off are stuck; they don't have any connections," she said. "They didn't go outside their job and search for ways to give of themselves and their time. It's about building relationships."
In the past year, Pearls for Women has helped local women locate jobs, inspired major career changes, supported women in need of advice, and has even gone so far as to locate a special dress for an important event.
"Nothing is untouchable for us," Jarvis said. "If a woman says, 'I need,' then we help. It becomes a mission 99 percent of the time and we go on patrol."
In addition to the workshops, the women say they are looking forward to the Second Annual Pearls for Women High Tea they are holding with the Second Chance Foundation in September at the Ritz Carlton Grand Lakes Orlando, where they will honor local women who contribute to their community.
In October, they will participate in the Sixth Annual Chefs Gone Wild Competition and Showcase to benefit Girl Scouts of Citrus Council scholarships.
Rewarding women for their efforts is vital, Krzewinski said.
When the group learns of a woman who has made a connection or difference in another's woman's life, the group "pearlizes" her; they present the woman with a pearl bracelet.
And because they value educating and supporting women in need, their events typically support local endeavors, such as the New Eden Spa currently being built at Florida Hospital Altamonte for patients with breast cancer and the Women's Resource Center in Orlando.
"It's an amazing feeling knowing you were part of something almost life changing," Jarvis said. "We are like gardeners, we throw seeds out where we can. We just don't know where the seeds are going to land."
For more information and to register, call 407-772-1426 or go to www.Pearls4women.com.
Date Submitted: 24/03/2010