It’s that time of the week—INTERVIEW DAY! We’re quite proud of snagging this writer and business professional, with accomplishments extraordinaire. We know you’ll agree that the insights she shares are relevant to all of our readers, not just the one’s who wear lip-stick. We discovered Ellen Langas Campbell—this week’s Smart Woman Online interview—in a USA WEEKEND Magazine article about writing for girls in the pre-teen market, which she will tell you about in more detail below, and we were so taken with her book ideas that we immediately wrote and asked for an interview. When she agreed to be interviewed, we walked around like proud peacocks for days on end. Ellen, however, would tell you that all the Smart Women and Men interviewed at Lip-sticking are worth crowing about—because every one of them has unique experiences worth sharing. Let’s see what Ellen has to say:
Lip-sticking: You explain on your website that Nousoma means "synergy of mind and body." I think women are connected mind and body more so than men. Perhaps it comes from our inherent 'intuition.' How has your intuition helped you become successful?
Ellen: Have you ever had a decision to make, weighed alternatives and determined they come out even? To break the tie, a good idea I use is the coin toss. It's usually while the coin is in the air that your gut tells you exactly which side you hope turns up. I think an experiment like that gives us some insight to how our intuition can help us, if we only listen to it. My intuition has helped me make decisions that don't necessarily look good on paper, such as leaving the security of a corporate position, or taking a pay cut to revamp my career. In 1986, I took a huge leap of faith and a pay cut to leave my lucrative corporate position and become a TV host for a start-up company. My peers rolled their eyes, but something just felt right. That company was QVC, and I later became an officer of that billion-dollar company.
Lip-sticking: Your new series of books, Girls Know How®, is exciting. It's clear that you believe in strong role models. Can you tell us a little more about the book series, and what to look for in the future?
Ellen: GIRLS KNOW HOW books encourage young girls, ages 8-12, to pursue the careers of their dreams. Each book within the fiction series features a girl who is presented with a challenge and is encouraged by an accomplished woman at the pinnacle of her career. The role model character is based on a real-life successful woman, and a photo, bio and exclusive Girls Want to Know interview is included at the conclusion of each book to guide girls wishing to learn more about the particular career.Linda Alvarado, President of Alvarado Construction (Colorado) and partner, The Colorado Rockies.
The first book, Will Stephanie Get the Story?, focuses on journalism as a profession and tells the story of Stephanie, a new girl at school, and her quest to land a spot in the school Newspaper Club. A mishap with her application, and a failed first attempt to write a story, dampen Stephanie’s dreams. After meeting the head of a major national newspaper (a character based on Marcia Bullard, President and CEO of USA WEEKEND), she is inspired to give writing another chance, not only making the staff, but also seeing her article published. Readers learn along with Stephanie that with hard work and passion, any girl’s dream can come true. The second book, expected to be released this fall, focuses on architecture as a career and features a character based on
Self-esteem issues for girls entering the middle-school grades are a big concern among parents and teachers. Studies have indicated that it is during the middle school years when many girls change their focus from academics and achievement to body consciousness and social acceptance, often causing them to shelve their dreams and ambitions. I hope the series will help inspire girls to keep their goals and dreams alive.
Lip-sticking: Do you shop online? If you do, what's the first thing you look for when you land on a site that you've chosen to click into with the intention of buying something; is it an indication of strong security? Or, do you immediately go for the shopping cart, to orient yourself for populating that cart with items? Perhaps you like to browse, is having a search function important to you?
Ellen: I usually shop on line for items which I have already done some research on, or for hard-to-locate items. For instance, recently I spent hours searching for just the right camcorder. I got frustrated while shopping at local stores which were consistently out of stock on the "advertised specials." I visited QVC.com and found the perfect choice in 2 minutes. I think I'm more conservative than most when it comes to shopping on line. I only use sites that have been recommended by a friend or colleague. I am loyal to my favorite sites and don't like to spend a lot of time comparison-shopping.
Lip-sticking: What kinds of items would you never buy online? Why not?
Ellen: I'm open to considering most anything on line. I shy away from items that have high shipping and handling costs since it can make returns difficult.
Lip-sticking: What business advice about can you give my readers that will help them achieve greater results in their efforts to make their businesses as successful as you have made yours?
Ellen: Realistic goals and expectations are important for a business start-up. Communicating expectations to employees, vendors and clients enhances the business environment, helps in planning, employee relations and negotiations. Planning is critical. It's important to set realistic goals and then dissect those goals to manageable short-term goals with measurements. However, I've seen many people get stuck at the planning stage. At some point, you have to take the plunge and get started!
Lip-sticking: I've read your bio and it's quite impressive, showing your accomplishments from your Women of Distinction award in Philadelphia in 1999, to your Excellence Award from Working Woman magazine, all the way to winning the Mrs. Pennsylvania title in 1994! I also learned that you do a lot of volunteer work, all while raising two daughters! Multi-tasking is certainly a strong part of being a woman, but you seem to have taken that to a new level. Share some insight into how you manage your time.
Ellen: I always find myself wishing for one more hour in the day, one more day in the week. If my wish came true, I'm sure I would just keep asking for more. So, it's safe to assume I will never have enough time to accomplish all my tasks. Armed with that knowledge, I've learned to manage my expectations and plan accordingly. At the same time, I make sure my family, friends and work associates are aware of my abilities and limitations. Here are a few things I do to manage my time: I keep two master to-do lists: one with personal tasks, the other with work tasks. I also keep a list of fun things I want to do (movies, books, places, restaurants). I can't tell you how often it comes in handy when the weekend rolls around.
Every day, typically at the end of my workday, I review the lists and create a short list of those tasks that I consider most important to accomplish the next day. I include appointments on the list. That gives me a pretty realistic sketch of how my day will play out. I never choose more tasks than I can accomplish. Some days I realize that there will be no way to accomplish everything, so it gives me some time to plan ahead to shuffle an appointment or arrange for rides for the children. I also jot down some fun things like calling a girlfriend or biking. Too often we tend to leave out the fun things from our day if we don't take the time to plan for them.
Committing the tasks to writing helps free my mind from thinking or worrying about them...at least until the next day! It also enables me to get started swiftly the next morning rather than wasting time thinking about where to start.
I try to choose one time to make all necessary phone calls for appointments and call backs so I can have my calendar handy. I do the same with e-mail, and check and respond a few times a day rather than allowing e-mails to interrupt me throughout the day.
Another trick that works well for me is to break up big projects into a number of small ones, and write each piece of the task on the list. For instance, I had to paint my front door. By breaking it up into 5 small tasks (get color swatches, buy paint, caulk, prime and paint) it was much easier to complete. I love being able to check off a portion of the task, and before you know it, the whole task is accomplished.
Flexibility is important. We all know the unexpected can and will happen, so it's important to expect and accept it. I also have come to realize that my house, kids or desk may not always be clean or organized. I've set a comfort level that I can accept. I think it's terrific to keep striving for a neat desk, manicured hands, well-dressed kids, fresh mulch and sit down dinners, but I've also learned when to let go.
Lip-sticking is quite familiar with the concept of ‘taking the plunge,’ as Ellen puts it in her advice answer. We also understand the need to listen to our ‘gut’ and go with our ‘intuition.’ Hearing Ellen’s story and understanding her dedication to helping pre-teen girls and young women build better self-esteem, reminds us that smart marketing to women involves giving of oneself, through charity work, volunteering, sharing experiences, and offering to support up and coming business professionals in their endeavors. After all, they will be the ones we’ll all be working with tomorrow… and the day after that... and the day after that…and the day…
We don’t see anything not to like about that!