Our blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

February 28, 2010

Room with a Crew: The importance of peers in the process of “becoming an entrepreneur”

We were thrilled when Eden Abrahams of Clear Path Executive Coaching approached us nearly two years ago with the hope of using In Good Company as research site for her Masters’ Thesis. She was interested in looking at the process of “becoming an entrepreneur” for women.

We are so pleased that her results support the importance of peers, as this was obviously our entire premise and hope in starting In Good Company Workplaces back in 2007. Further, her study shows that safe space, collegial relationships, peer learning and truth speaking all seem to be critical elements in the process of “becoming an entrepreneur”.

Thanks to Eden for sharing the results with us. More about the research can be found on her website, in addition to an excerpt of findings listed below.


From “A Room with a Crew: How Coaching and Peer Support Are Experienced by First-Time Entrepreneurs”:

Three new and noteworthy findings also emerged from this study:

1. The normalization of negative feelings related to agency, including isolation and inadequacy, is one of the most important takeaways that participants gained from their association with In Good Company peers.

* The ability to see one’s struggles in the context of a universal reality (i.e., these are obstacles that most entrepreneurs routinely encounter in the early stages of building their businesses) rather than as failures due to individual shortcomings, is extremely difficult to do in isolation.

* Without access to peers, mentors or coaches who have first-hand experience with the situation and / or emotional state an entrepreneur is facing, or at least an awareness of typical elements of the entrepreneurial experience, a core ingredient in the “normalization” process is missing.

2. Both formal and informal peer-to-peer coaching interactions have the potential to foster significant – possibly transformational – learning, which is often a powerful catalyst for professional development.

* In Good Company initially appealed to all six study participants as a solution to largely practical problems (e.g., the need for affordable office space and network expansion opportunities), but became something much more vital and affirming, largely on the strength of their affinity for and relationships with other women in the community. Participants’ interactions with other members, both casual and structured, helped them to acquire tangible knowledge, skills, behaviors and new contacts that they considered valuable from a bottom-line perspective.

3. The ability to simultaneously engage in provisional role playing while observing others inhabiting their roles – all within a safe space – functions as a kind of protective scaffolding for individuals whose identities are in flux or evolving.

* Work occupies a central place in adult life and in shaping individuals’ identities. Supportive, information-rich professional environments, where individuals can safely experiment with new behaviors while observing and selectively emulating their peers, help to strengthen and reinforce professional identities that are newly emergent or still in flux.


We are so excited that this research mirrors our experience and hypothesis. Too often we find that women who have decided to work for themselves end up working by themselves. We believe that there is no reason to go it alone or reinvent the wheel. Peers and collaboration are the keys to success!

posted by Adelaide Lancaster

February 26, 2010

Ladies Lunch with Meredith Barnett!

Our February inFOCUS program came to a close with our festive soiree at Selia Yang’s showroom on Wednesday night. It was a lovely evening. We are so grateful to Selia for being so generous with her time, story, and sage words of wisdom! We have learned a lot from her over the month and it has truly been a gorgeous experience! (Reports from February on lessons learned from Selia can be found here, here, here, and here.)

With Monday however, we begin a new month and a new inFOCUS! This time we are thrilled to be learning from Meredith Barnett, editorial director of The Inside Source, a digital style magazine presented by eBay about trends in for shopping fashion, home & garden, collectibles and more, and is also co-founder of Store Adore, a personalized, web-based guide to the best boutique shopping around the country and online.

As usual, we will be sharing insights over the course of the month through our blog and will then be gathering with Meredith on Wednesday, March 24th, 12-2 for more discussion.

Please let us know if you are planning to attend, as there are a limited number of spaces. igcrsvp@gmail.com with MEREDITH in the subject. Priority is given to IGC members.

the image is, of course, a Betty Boop lunch box. Similar items can be found on eBay!

February 25, 2010

Shopping Experiment - coming to an end!

Well, I am all about experimentation because you never know how something will play out until you try it. And try I did! But now I am over it. My non-shopping experiment, that is.

What it boils down to is that cutting something out of my life entirely that I enjoy and does not incur harm to me or anyone else is not such a bright idea after all.

My goal was to figure out what I do with my time and one thing I determined is that I work more, relax less and feel like I miss a creative outlet in my life. Not the most desired outcome.

After hearing Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project speak last Thursday night at IGC it dawned on me that I my approach to the experiment, based on who I am, was flawed.

Gretchen (who is a remarkably genuine, knowledgeable and funny speaker) encourages setting resolutions in an effort to increase your happiness but to do so in a way that you can be successful in integrating these resolutions. For anyone who knows me, they would all probably agree that I do not like to be told "no". So saying NO shopping was not such a great strategy on my part. Instead, a better way to experiment was to say "Shop less" and define what that means, and hold myself to it.

Gretchen also pointed out that 80% of people who set new year's resolutions abandon them by mid-February. So at least I felt in good company with those who bail early. But according to Adelaide's logic, since my project was 3 months long (instead of a full year) I should feel pleased to have succeeded 75% of the way.

So here's to a great two month experiment. And now, as of March 1st... let the shopping begin!

posted by Amy Abrams

February 19, 2010

Listen Up! I have something nice to say to you: Listening part 2

I always find it so strange when I am giving someone a compliment and they do one of the following:

1. Try and talk me out of it

2. Argue with me

3. Tell me that "I am just saying that" and insinuating that I don't really mean it

I consider myself to be very genuine, especially when it comes to giving compliments. But the usual response is always so shocking and I find myself repeatedly saying "just say thank you."

There seems to be some type of disconnect when it comes to listening to a compliment. When it comes to your business, customer feedback is a gift - and for many businesses negative and or / constructive feedback is easier to come by / more readily available.

However while the positive feedback and compliments may be less frequent they require just as much attention.


Well, first of all, it is an opportunity to take a minute and give yourself a pat on the back. As entrepreneurs, we are frequently working on the next project, focusing on the next step or crossing off things on our to-do list. So, since it is hard to do build in on your own, use compliments as a welcome opportunity to pause and appreciation your work.

Second, it is a valuable chance to really LISTEN to what aspect of your business/you that your customers are recognizing, celebrating and reporting back to you. They are telling you, from their perspective what distinguishes you and your business from the competition.

From that information you can evaluate if that compliment is something you have set out to be recognized for and is therefore an achievement of your goals, or perhaps it is a by-product of your efforts and something you should utilize as a marketing opportunity or showcase as a business differentiator.

In either case, the next time someone gives you a compliment, try to look them in the eye, smile and say thanks!

posted by Amy Abrams
image courtesy of

February 18, 2010

Relationship Roots: The importance of going back to the beginning

We have been reading Esther Perel’s new book, Mating in Captivity, partly in preparation for her visit in April.

It is phenomenal. Really very interesting. Esther’s voice and perspective is not only warm but also refreshing and reasoned. Her skill as both therapist and writer is clear. She articulately retells stories of her clients, weaving in relevant psychological themes, historical and multi-cultural perspectives, and modern day relationship realities.

What I was also struck by was a few strong parallels to our business consulting work. One parallel was the effectiveness of “going back to the beginning”.

Esther shares how she frequently will have new clients recount how they met each other.

She writes:
“People don’t usually come to me when they are still in the initial thrall of love. Sometimes they need a gentle reminder of what once was. It can be difficult for estranged or distressed couples to focus on what drew them together, but within every couple’s ‘creation myth’ lies the key to understanding the unfolding story of their relationship.”

This reminds me a lot of those entrepreneurs who get hijacked by their business. We often work with women who struck out on their own with zeal and enthusiasm. The reasons for being the boss were clear and the benefits of entrepreneurship were plentiful.

Fast forward a few years later, these same women feel imprisoned by a business that they no longer like. They are subject to a work system that no longer meets their needs or works for them.

Maybe they are working way too much. Maybe they are doing tasks that they don’t like. Maybe they aren’t nearly making enough money. Maybe every modicum of flexibility or balance has been gobbled by their business. Maybe they are just tired and uninspired. In every case, they are off track.

In order to getting better understanding of the situation we, like Esther, ask them to tell us about the beginning. Why did they start? What did they want and hope for at the beginning? What did they feel? What did they love about their new role and venture? And perhaps, what was uncomfortable about it?

The story that is told always feels leagues away from the current and unhappy reality. It helps us to see the entrepreneur in a different, more revitalized light. It helps them to reconnect with their original intentions and motivations. And most importantly it provides the clues for why the present state is so unsatisfying.

In both cases, personal relationships and professional ventures, it is helpful to find concrete ways of hanging on to some of those beginning feelings. They should be readily accessible and frequently reminded. It is too easy to let years of data and experience and disappointment and misunderstanding file on top of those founding thoughts and feelings, obscuring them and leaving them buried under an unfavorable history.

So, while you’re thinking of it, why did you get started?

What were your original hopes, motivations, and intentions?

What did you want to achieve with your business? Has that changed over time? Have you allowed your business to change with it?

posted by Adelaide Lancaster

February 17, 2010

Kindle Compromise: A new relationship that comes with its own pros and cons

I was thrilled to receive a Kindle for Christmas and I have been proudly showing it to everyone I know. Beside being just excited about my new gadget, I have been using it a ton. However, I’m finding that my relationship with my new e-reader has been more nuanced than I imagined. I probably shouldn’t be so surprised…after all I have cultivated a 30 year relationship with the paper book. Surely it is fair to have a few nostalgic hang-ups.

So after 6 weeks of use…here is my Pro/Con list. To be fair the Cons are NOT really a drawback of the Kindle per se…just e-readers in general.

(Pros) Things I love about my Kindle:

· As a commuter I love that it is light and thin.

· I love being able to easily carry multiple books with me at once. Also, since I am trying hard to drastically pair down my belongings at home, I appreciate not feeling guilty about acquiring more books that I will someday probably soon have to agonize about getting rid of…it has already been like Sophie’s Choice.

· I love that the newly-released books that I am buying are cheaper than the paper versions (for now)

· I love that it has a built in dictionary. My vocabulary (and joke) memory are about 3 seconds long, so it is nice to easily be able to look up the same word multiple times

· I love that you can electronically underline sections and store them together…all in one place

· I love the screen and how clean, crisp, and easy it is to read it is.

· It is easy to read in bed or laying down and doesn’t require the awkward flipping back and forth that traditional books do.

· Of course, it is amazing to instantaneously have the book that you want!

(Cons) E-Reader Challenges:

· I hate that I can’t lend books to anyone, not even to someone with a Kindle. My husband and business partner have both had to purchase books that I have recommended because I can’t lend my copy to them.

· My battery had died on the train, trapping all the 4 interesting books that I wanted to read inside.

· Which brings me to the fact that you have to remember to charge it.

· Not all books are available via the Kindle, which is ok, but it makes me less inclined to buy it. It is tough to navigate two systems of books and I was ready to take the full digital plunge.

· After a long day of computer work and an acute case of electronic fatigue I am often hesitant to pick up my Kindle and I instead long for good old paper. Although once I do start reading, I am always fine on account of the lovely screen and eye-pleasing screen that I mentioned above.

· The back of the Kindle is cold on bare legs! Bad for reading in bed, the beach/pool, and in the summer time.

· Despite the “progress bar” on the bottom of the screen you just don’t have the same level of satisfaction and accomplishment as you do when you are steadily seeing more pages stack up on the left side.

· If the book is pretty, you don’t get to enjoy the cover.

· I have my first book club meeting next week and my fear is that it will be hard to coordinate with everyone else, since I can’t match up page numbers.

· Speaking of book club…it is really hard to skim a book on a Kindle!!

While I’m certain that the benefits outweigh the costs in this situation and that e-readers will be the future, I neglected to realize that my breakup from traditional paper books may be painful and that it may take a little longer to negotiate my new digital reader relationship. And in the meantime I, of course, have to keep myself from reminiscing about paper books through rose-colored glasses. Each relationship comes with its own baggage, pros & cons, advantages and drawbacks!

posted by Adelaide Lancaster