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Good morning and happy Monday! This is Emily Barske taking over the newsletter for the week because Emily Blobaum is off getting married. (Woo-hoo!) So when you see Emily Kestel in the next newsletter, I promise we didn't add yet another Emily to our team -- she just has a new last name. You'll be able to reach her at

This week we're sharing ideas from two female small business owners, who were among the Business Record's 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes lineup. I certainly learned a lot from the event, so I encourage you to check out everyone's remarks.

Have a great week!

-- Emily Barske, Business Record editor

10 ideas from two small business owners
Every year since 2016, the Business Record has asked nine Iowa leaders to share their best ideas – big and small – that can be applied to any organization.

This year, the nine leaders were Chris Norton, Tom Harty, Sarah Noll Wilson, Scott Jean, Sid Juwarker, Jacqueline Easley, Kenia Calderon Ceron, Jessica Dunker and Christina Moffatt.

Because we’re focusing on business ownership this month in Fearless, we’re running a few ideas from Noll Wilson and Moffatt, who are both female small business owners.

To read other ideas, visit the Business Record’s website.
Sarah Noll Wilson
Chief edge officer, Sarah Noll Wilson Inc.

Freedom over flexibility
Organizations need people to be effective at leading processes, projects and people. The truth is if you do not support your people, the other two will always suffer. One thing we can do is create a culture of autonomy and ownership through systems and policies. Act: At our company, we believe in freedom of work schedule versus controlling time. People can work when, where and how they want. We are clear on deadlines and expectations, and the rest is up to them. When people have autonomy, they work in ways that are best for them, not just best for me. Result? They are more engaged and produce great work.

Constantly ask: Is it a rule or just a possibility?
This pandemic challenged every norm. What we did, how we did it, and who we did it with was thrown out. While we were figuring out our next steps, so were our clients. A common trap people fell into that limited their growth was confusing something as a rule instead of just a possibility. "Sarah, we won’t be able to build relationships virtually." Me: "Is that a rule or just a possibility?" Cue new ideas and paths forward. Act: When ways of being and doing have been around awhile it serves us to ask, "Is this an actual rule we have to follow or just one way of doing this?" When you realize it’s the latter, innovation can emerge and growth evolves.

With great power comes great responsibility
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is when in a formal leadership position, you have authority and power, which gives you privilege. From financial benefits to decision-making control to impacting opportunities for others. The idea of power can make people uncomfortable. "I know I’m the CEO, but I’m just Gina." Sometimes we can forget that power in how we show up and what we ask of others. For example, if I am asking people to speak up more, I must understand that I have much lower risk because of my power as owner. Act: Ask yourself, "How can I use my power for greater impact on the people in my company and community?"

Inclusion is nonnegotiable
My colleague Gilmara Villa-Nova Mitchell, DEI leader, told me, "You cannot be a great leader if you can only lead people who look and sound like you." While I consider myself open and supportive to all, I wasn’t intentional about inclusion. I didn’t see (and still don’t always see) where I may exclude others. Great teams exist when everyone feels safe to be their true selves. Act: One small but powerful action we can take is to diversify the voices we follow and learn from. If most of the people I interact with, books I read, or people I follow on social media look and sound like me, then I am missing out on experiences from people with different lived experiences.  

Be chronically curious
My entire career I was rewarded for knowing. Having the right answers feels good, doesn’t it? I learned the hard way that there were situations that don’t have a single right answer, assumptions I’ve made that were incorrect, or people whom I judged critically. When I was focused on being right, I missed opportunities for getting it right. Want to build powerful relationships? Get curious about them. Want to solve a complex situation? Get curious about possibilities. Act: Instead of assuming you know, assume you don’t know. Assume that there are always unknowns, about a situation, the people around, and even yourself.

90 Ideas coverage continues below the advertisement.
Christina Moffatt
Director of small business resources, Greater Des Moines Partnership | owner, Crème Cupcake + Dessert

Are you following the recipe?
A recipe is intended for others to follow. When you don’t follow the recipe and it doesn’t turn out like you had hoped, are you frustrated? Leadership is like a recipe, and your team is following your recipe. Do you ever stop and think why in the world are they doing that? It may be time to examine your recipe, aka the examples you have set. COVID affected everyone and instilled new habits and new ways of doing things. If your employees see you working all the time, responding to emails at all times of the day, not being personal or kindly interacting with the team, then they will do the same. What if you prioritized your family on your calendar first, took a true vacation and said hello to everyone you walked by? Would it change your team’s attitude and work? Slight changes in your recipe (leadership example) will make some awesome things.

A pinch of positive attitude
People want to work with people they like. In most cases (not all), you can train people on the position if they do not have the right initial skill set, so hire people with a good attitude. This also shows your employees that you are willing to promote from within if they want to stay and grow with your company versus bringing in someone from outside who may only stay a couple of years. When you don’t allow opportunities to move up, your employees will seek out opportunities elsewhere.

Know what legacy you want to leave
When the day comes and your time is done, what do you want to be remembered for? With kids growing up and moving away to go to college, needing to spend time with parents and loved ones, having to manage a job/career, and knowing that life is not finite, stop and think about the way you’re living and how best to balance life now. What do you want to be remembered for in that time? My family attended my functions, major donations have been given to nonprofit organizations that benefit generations to come, being able to take parents to things they always wanted to do in their final years. You are in control of your story right now. Start writing the ending you want today.

Make a purposeful connection every day
After not engaging with people face to full-face and not being able to see all of the facial expressions, we’ve lost practice. If we’re truly listening, it involves looking at people and reading their expressions. Could you see the worry on your employee’s face, did you stop to give anyone a smile just because? Who have you met with this week to get to know better? When you connect with people, you gain understanding and empathy with them. Think about that person who provides exceptional service to you and whom you look forward to seeing – it’s because they made a connection with you. You can be the change in someone’s day.

Where did you spend your money this week?
Make it a goal to invest in your small businesses and your community. The worst thing I hear is "Where did that small business go?" By leaving a corporate job, I left one job and created 22 jobs (prior to COVID). That is 22 people who needed the support of the community to make a living. Because small businesses can make quick decisions, they are the first to say yes to donating, they are donating to your teams that need sponsors, they are the volunteers showing up to clean up the neighborhood. If you lose them, you lose that support to your community. I challenge you to stop before buying something and think if there is a local business that can fill the need.
Left: Whistleblower Frances Haugen. Center: New Mid-Iowa Health Foundation President and CEO Nalo Johnson. Right: Former WOI-TV news director April Samp.
In the headlines
  • The former Facebook employee who shared internal documents with the Wall Street Journal that showed that the social media platform was aware of problems with its apps has been identified as Frances Haugen, who is an Iowa native.
  • Dr. Nalo Johnson has been named as the new president and CEO of Mid-Iowa Health Foundation. Johnson will succeed Suzanne Mineck, and most recently served as division director of health promotion and chronic disease prevention at the Iowa Department of Public Health.
  • Former WOI-TV news director April Samp has agreed to drop her gender discrimination lawsuit against station owner Tegna Inc. Her lawsuit, which was filed last year, alleged that she was one of several women older than 40 who were forced out of their jobs, and that her gender and advocacy for pay equity were also reasons for her firing.
  • For the first time in history, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was guarded by an all-woman team of sentinels.
  • The top executive of the Washington Spirit, Steve Baldwin, is stepping down, following allegations of a toxic workplace and abuse against the professional soccer team’s former coach, Richie Burke. Players called for an end to "systemic abuse" in the league and paused all games. NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird resigned last week, and the league called off its games over the weekend under pressure from players.
Seeing the World Differently
"When you have a disability, you’re fearless every single day of your life. There’s always a challenge."

Marilyn Swinney is familiar with feeling like an outsider, just for being who she is. More than 20 years ago — after graduating from the University of Manchester in England with a textile technology degree — Swinney made the selection process for a graduate production manager role at a manufacturing facility, affiliated with an international, blue-chip company.

Raised in Malaysia, of Sri Lankan-Chinese descent, Swinney was diagnosed at birth with Stargardt’s disease, which is a genetic disorder that causes progressive vision loss, eventually resulting in blindness.

Worth checking out
Meet Fortune’s 2021 Most Powerful Women (Fortune). Giving birth in the end times (The Cut). A woman of color cannot save your workplace culture (Time). ‘They don’t understand that we’re real people’ (The Daily podcast). I left poverty after writing ‘Maid.’ But poverty never left me (Time). How the Coast Guard’s first Black woman pilot helped give the next one her wings (StoryCorps). How other nations pay for child care. The U.S. is an outlier (New York Times).
For last month’s Fearless Friday event, we heard from many of the Business Record’s 2021 Women of Influence. Ahead of the event, we asked them about what being fearless means to them. Watch their responses:
On Leadership: 10 questions to help leaders thrive during change

Whether I’m in conversation with business leaders running organizations, friends trying to manage hybrid work, or parents dealing with ever-changing school situations, everyone keeps talking about "getting back to normal." But what is normal now?

While it is human nature to desire stability, or at least a break from the chaos we’ve been experiencing through the prolonged pandemic, I’m struck by how common it is to want to return to a feeling of something familiar rather than to move toward something new or different. But we are likely to be living with rapid change as a way of life, especially at work.

"All indications are that increasing volatility, complexity, and rapid change is the new normal, which requires new ways to drive change within organizations — new ways that mobilize the employee base to actively participate in gathering insights, creating solutions, and providing leadership," says a recent Harvard Business Review article titled "Is Your Organization Surviving Change — or Thriving in It?" This article asserts that it’s possible to reframe the concept of change from something to be feared and resisted to something positive and welcome.

Through the years, I’ve come to accept that change is not only inevitable, it is how we grow and develop. But that doesn’t mean it is always easy — far from it. So how do you actually change your mind about change when so much is unknown and things are moving fast? Read the 10 questions
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