Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with John Davidson the managing editor of Keystone Edge to discuss IQ Inc. Here is a link to the interview!
Thursday, 16 April 2009 10:38 by BarbaraV
My next step was to
actually quit my job… This was on of the hardest parts about opening up
my own business. It takes so much courage to stand up to the 9-5 culture and
say 'I don't need to be doing this, nor do I want to, so I won't'. I
would agree that turning in one’s resignation is never easy. But, if
you have come to the realization that you are in a job that you really, REALLY
don’t like AND you have the “courage” to go out and do it on
your own, then you are well on your entrepreneurial journey!
We started out this blog hoping to provide thoughts, hopefully
insightful ones, to help other budding entrepreneurs! I have
been reflecting on the recent Athena award and what it means to me. Guess
you could say I actually began my entrepreneurial journey very early in
life. When I started work at Westinghouse, back in the 20th
century, I hired my then ten year old sister Maggie to pack my lunch (always ½
peanut butter and jelly sandwich and one red apple) and she brought me a cup of
black coffee as I prepared for my day at the office. I paid her a $0.25
per week for this service. $0.25 per week?! I know that might sound
low for all that work, but that was a lot of money at the time, especially for
a 10 year old! So, looking back, she was actually my very first
“employee”. Fortunately, for me anyway, the only
“benefit” I had to provide was to let her borrow my clothes from
time to time. But things are much different today. Ensuring my
employees are provided with competitive benefits, a fundamental career path,
and a challenging but enjoyable working environment is always on my mind….
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being
interviewed by the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s techV!BE radio program
on Pittsburgh Renaissance Radio, 1360AM. Audrey Russo and Jonathan
Kersting do a great job with the program, whose goal is to explore Pittsburgh’s
technology market. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen, here is
a link to the broadcast: http://www.iq-inc.com/TechVibe.html
Last Thursday did not start as one of my better days. I had spent
the entire morning in a long stream of meetings…most not very
pleasant. But, there was one bright light that I was looking forward
to…meeting the newest addition to the IQ Team…four day old Riley
Dobson. So, you can image my surprise when into the conference room
walked two total strangers, bearing balloons and flowers and asking for
“Barbara VanKirk”. I am not sure what was going through my
mind, but I looked at the woman and said very emphatically (heart pounding)
“YES?” as she presented me with the flowers. I quickly told
her that I was not the one that just had the baby! Obviously my
“advanced” professional appearance hadn’t clued her in! Imagine
my surprise when she congratulated me on being named the 2009 ATHENA Award Winner!
For those unaware, the ATHENA Award is presented to an individual who
devotes time and energy to improve the quality of life for others; mentors
other women to reach their full leadership potential and demonstrates
excellence, creativity and initiative in business or their profession. I was
so taken by surprise that it took me several days to even comprehend that I was
selected as the actual award winner! I guess you could say my reaction
was “priceless”, the tears came and I looked at every face in the
room and said “I was expecting a baby…does this mean no baby is
coming?” While Riley did not make an appearance that day, she did
visit us today, a bright ray of sunshine on this rainy day!
Writing “THE PLAN”….Writing a business
plan, sounds so daunting! But, it’s really no different than
setting career objectives. You can find many templates and reading
materials on building a business plan. To be successful the first
step in writing the plan is deciding what you want your business to be… whether
you are providing a service or a product. What are you trying to do?
Is the plan to duplicate a service that is already being provided or is it a
new and innovative idea? Determine what it is you want to do then organize
your thoughts, set the objectives and start to write a very detailed plan,
including a budget!
In my previous position I sold consulting services to local
businesses, which provided me with a jump start on the planning of IQ. I
spent a lot of time researching my competitors, and set out to create a
distinguishing factor, something that would really set IQ apart from all other
consulting companies! I didn’t want IQ to be like all the
others…I wanted to be “personally” involved with my clients
and candidates. Writing the plan was not so hard, but making that
first “offer” to an employee and signing the first
“contract” with a customer….well, that’s another story…
Thursday, 12 March 2009 14:56 by BarbaraV
Flexible hours! It wasn’t like I was looking to
“reduce” my work schedule; I just needed the ability to adjust my
hours to accommodate my family’s needs. The hardest call I had to
make was to my husband to tell him that I had “quit” my job.
Actually, the call was not that hard to make, he was very supportive and said,
“Well you better get that business plan started!” Yikes,
business plan, I didn’t know how to build a business plan!
Tuesday, 10 March 2009 13:12 by BarbaraV
When I resigned my sales position in 1994, I was so nervous, I couldn’t believe my employer was willing to let me walk out the door. I was the number one producer at the time and loved my customers and the employees that worked for me! It really did not take me long to realize that I was to work on my employers terms, and who was I to think I was special and could break the rules?! Flexible hours….
subject of interviewing attire comes up, we have seen it ALL... from blue jeans to the dreaded combination of
navy blue and black (guys please note…this is a big NO).
think that in today’s world there are enough business resources out there (and
fashion magazines) that people can look at before they dress for a professional
interview. Sadly, there isn’t.
Here are some
of our favorites that have walked through our doors:
If you are
going to wear a brand new suit/outfit make sure you remove all of the tags Before
the Interview. We were interviewing a
candidate and he had tags sticking out on his suit…guess he was going to return
it after the interview if he thought it didn’t go well! Either that…or he was trying to make his own
fashion statement…needless to say, it didn’t catch on!
Dress in clothing that fits your body:
Once a candidate came in with a shirt and tie… great interviewing
attire, right? Yes, except that his tie
was too short… really short…kind of like Yogi Bear…it came up to the middle of
his chest. Not only was the tie bad, but
the shirt was too small…about two sizes too small! Throughout the interview our thoughts were…
if he moves too fast will a button pop and shoot into my eye? Ouch!
Here is a
quick list of NO’s we came up with:
- Flip-flops or sneakers.
- Underwear (bras, bra straps,
briefs, boxers, etc.) on the outside…they don’t call it UNDERWEAR for
- Skirts that are too short. If you think it’s good for clubbing…it’s
a sure thing it’s not good for interviewing!
- Pants that are too low-rise or
too tight (see Skirts!).
- Blouses that are too low-cut or
too short (see Skirts and Blouses!).
Trendy vs. Classic: Opting for a classic interview suit that will last for years is a better
investment than the latest trendy attire that will only last a season. Your
idea of trendy might not match the interviewer's perspective on what's
fashionable, so err on the side of dressing conservatively when you interview.
Monday, 26 January 2009 16:04 by BarbaraV
This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, Steelers vs. the Cardinals… Since of course this blog is written by a Pittsburgher, this post is dedicated to the Steeler Nation.
Every city loves their football team, but Pittsburgh fans take it to the next level. I of course have a slighted view, growing up in western PA and having lived through the era of the Steel Curtain, but it is not only the locals who have recognized there is something special about Steeler Football. Earlier this season Steeler Fans were voted/recognized as the best fans in the league, not once, but twice, by authorities in the industry- ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Interestingly the Cardinal's fans were voted the worst, number 32 out of 32 clubs… ouch.
So for those “out of towners” what is it like in the Steel City in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl??? Steeler Mania!!! For the past two weeks the city has exploded in black and gold fever… the typical Sunday uniform of Steelers gear can be seen throughout the week. There are Steeler stands along the highways, t-shirts being sold at Giant Eagle and Sheetz and you cannot go an hour at the office without looking at a Steeler email containing a picture of a slain cardinal or the latest Steeler fight song!
I know in our office there was a rigorous debate as to whether the “black and gold flu” was an acceptable excuse for the Monday after the Super Bowl… Surprisingly I left everyone speechless with my response (I believe this was the first time ever).
Sunday’s game will show plenty of Terrible Towels waving in Tampa’s stadium, by black and gold clad fans who traveled hundreds of miles to see their beloved team. Steeler bars across the country (STEELER BARS) will be packed with fans cheering for a win from New York to California!!! HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!!