Chair Chat- Jackie’s Last Post – Lessons Learned from Great White Sharks

From the desk of Jackie Sheffer, 2018 Chair of the Women’s Business Council.

First and foremost I would like to thank my Vice Chair, Amanda Goyer, for standing with me over the past year to lead an amazing group of Women. Thank you to all of the committee co-chairs and committee members for all that you do to make the WBC a powerhouse of support for women in business in the Capital Region.

The mission the Women’s Business Council is to promote the role of women in the workplace at all levels, as business and community leaders and as team members, while providing support for those challenges and issues which are unique to women in business.

While the challenges in the workplace are different for each of us, what is more important to recognize is we can solve the challenges when we honor each and every one of us as the unique individuals we are.

I have spent the last year focusing inward and will continue this journey into next year. When starting this journey I was looking to fix myself. I will be ending the year and starting 2019 with focusing on my own uniqueness, focusing on supporting and nurturing it.

The things that have helped me move forward this year:

Getting a coach – life is hard, personal and business all run together, sometimes you need an outside voice to keep you out of your own head and see reality.

Dropping the ball – I have dropped the ball when it comes to reading books; I listen to books instead. For the past couple of years, I have had piles of books on my bedroom floor glaring at me each morning and evening reminding me of all that I have not accomplished. Since l started to listen, I have read six books and have taken action on what I have learned.

Finding a partner – finding someone who is not a co-worker, business partner or life partner to be an accountability partner. I recently spent a day with my partner working on our life plans for 2019, we have scheduled quarterly meetings to keep each other on track. It needs to be someone you can talk openly with, someone that has your back but will push you.

Turning it off – turning off the negative messages in my life that do not support my uniqueness.  This also means dealing with and working through FOMO (the fear of missing out). I just deleted all social media from my phone and will be signing off of Facebook tonight. I have faith that the things and people I need to know and be a part of will come to me or I will go to them.

What is up for 2019: I am looking to live a year of gratitude and peace. I have started a gratitude journal and look forward to working on my life plan.

I would like to leave you with a little of my uniqueness to start off your New Year.

The 5 life lessons I have learned from Great White Sharks:great-white-shark-wallpaper-6

Great Whites have to keep moving – always be looking forward to the next opportunity

Great Whites cannot swim backward – stay out of the past, be present

Great Whites take sample bites – try everything in life at least once

Great Whites typically hunt 1st thing in the morning or late afternoon – get the hard sh*t done first

Great Whites are always Great Whites – believe in who you are and always show the world the REAL YOU!

Thank you all for being a part of my life in 2018, I look forward to seeing you all next year.


A Special Thank You to Jackie Sheffer


As 2018 is coming to a close, the Capital Region Chamber and the Women’s Business Council would like to extend their sincerest gratitude to Jackie Sheffer, the 2018 Women’s Business Council Chair. We greatly appreciate all the hard work and dedication Jackie has made towards making the WBC a more engaging and welcoming place to all professionals in the Capital Region.

To show our thanks, the Women’s Business Council made a $100 donation towards the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which happens to be a cause that Jackie is extremely passionate about. This donation will help assist local scientists in completing a first-of-its-kind Northwest Atlantic white shark population study, continue to work with Town, State and Federal officials to improve public safety, and expand our community outreach programs to inspire shark conservation.

Join us in thanking Jackie for all she has done for the Women’s Business Council!

Don’t forget! Tickets for the Women’s Business Council’s next program, Voices in the Crowd, are still available. This story-slam features local professional women sharing their unique stories to the crowd. You don’t want to miss this event.

Get your tickets here.



Chair Chat- Gender Lens Investing- What is it and how can you participate?



August 26th is Women’s Equality Day.  Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting the right to vote to women.

The WBC Voice and the WBC Chair, Jackie Scheffer, decided to focus on Women’s Equality Day by going next-level and blogging about a new approach to investing; gender lens investing.

“We’re hearing more about gender lens investing today because there is a growing interest among consumers and investors to support gender equality as a fundamental human right,” Jackie VanderBrug, Investment Strategist in the Global Wealth and Investment Management Chief Investment Office (GWIM CIO) states.

“It’s not small, soft, and pink,” says Jackie VanderBrug. “It’s the deliberate integration of gender-based data into financial analysis, with the expectation of finding additional opportunities and uncovering and mitigating risks.”

Read on to find out how to enhance your investment returns. Gender Lens Investing


Chair Chat: Lesson Learned?


From the desk of Jackie Sheffer, WBC Chair

About 4 years ago a came up with what I call my life boxes, Family, Building my Business, Sharks and Running. I created these boxes to help me say no to things that were not important to me if they did not fit in one of my boxes. Creating the boxes felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders, this exercise allowed me to remove myself from activities that were causing me stress.

Over the past several years I have revisited my boxes annually to write out goals and have felt pretty strong in some of my boxes. Sharks are in my philanthropy box.  My heart belongs to both Sharks and Girls. I have been volunteering with a running group for girls and with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.  Running is in my health box. I started running again and have my personal trainer scheduled on my calendar 3 times per week. I do not cancel my time with her, the time may move from a Monday to a Tuesday, but I see her 3 times per week.  Work is always front and center, family, who are they?

I feel that my work box is about to explode and my family box is empty. The first thing that may pop into one’s mind is a work-life balance. I believe in work-life integration and feel I need to take a step back and see where I am spending my time. Over the past weekend, I made a list of all the activities I do outside of my family box, along with the amount of time spent participating in these activities. I then made a spreadsheet of my 4 boxes and listed the activities in the box they represent.

Activities that do not fit in a box will have to go, I will then prioritize the remaining activities in their respective boxes, this may also require letting go of less critical activities.

More important I will review my boxes monthly to assist in maintaining a healthy level of activity in each box.  Going forward I will work on taking the following steps when deciding whether to take on a new activity:

  • Thank you for asking, can I get back to you tomorrow?
  • Which box does this activity fit in?
  • Where does this activity fit in the list of priorities currently within that box?
  • How much time will this new activity take?
  • Send a Thank you but No response as soon as possible.

I am not sure what I am afraid of when it comes to saying no? I believe that it is an honor when someone asks me to participate. Don’t I want to give it my all? Saying no today does not mean I have to say no tomorrow when the time is right and the yes fits into one of my life boxes.


Words: Take Back Your Power

Robbin Jorgensen’s talk early this month on the power of words has me thinking of two expressions that make me cringe each time I hear them.  My first thought is to abolish these expressions from my vocabulary but even that would give these expressions too much power. If we embrace these expressions as uniquely individual there’s no right or wrong; it’s what is meaningful to you and only you.

stones-in-perfect-balance_1048-2404The two expressions are “perfect” and “work-life balance.” I believe they have a powerful impact on each other and have been driving women crazy for decades.

Let me tackle “work-life balance” first. Recently I attended an event where a 30’s something woman stood up and asked the speaker how she obtained “work-life balance.” As a 50’s something woman I had hoped that by now we would see “work-life balance” as something that works differently for each of us and not something that can be replicated by someone else’s unique formula for balancing work and life.

Simon Sinek has the explanation of work-life balance that speaks to me. Simon states that if you are looking for balance there is an imbalance in your life. He equates balance with comfort. If you are comfortable at home, are you not comfortable at work? If you are comfortable with home and work, the perception of an imbalance no longer exists.

The definition of balance is a condition where different elements are equal or in correct proportions. Only you can define what equal or correct proportions are for your life. There is no secret sauce that works for everyone, you have to find your own sauce and enjoy it. My sauce is that I am comfortable at home and work and the line blurs between the two. There are still days, weeks or sometimes months that I feel uncomfortable with life. When this happens I stop and listen to what the universe is telling me and take back my power.

Now let me tackle “perfect.” The definition of perfect is having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. When it comes to work-life or home life where do we get the definition of the elements, qualities or characteristics? They most often come from external sources such as society, our companies, our families and friends, or what we see on social media. How often do they come from within?

The world would be a different place if we strived to reach our own definition of “perfect.” It would help eliminate the self sabotage and we would not miss out on all the amazing things we accomplish everyday but fail to recognize because we have not lived up to someone else’s “perfect.”

My definition of “perfect” is to be the best, most kind and humble person that I can be on any given day. There are days that work gets everything from me and days that home life gets everything from me, on those days, life is in its correct proportion or “perfect” and I have my own “work-life balance.”

We Inspire Excellence Together

It’s amazing to me how this year has absolutely flown by. Last year at this time, I missed the “passing of the torch” and celebration of our Adopted Non-profit because I had just started my maternity leave. Knowing that we have an amazing Steering Committee at the WBC gave me the confidence to know I was leaving things in extremely capable hands during that time. 2017 kicked off the year with putting health and well-being first, especially for ourselves and our staff, to improving our BAT-ing average, to the Inclusion Revolution. We also have been inspired by this year’s Women of Excellence winners and our amazing Bold in Business author, Regina Calcaterra. Infused in each program was learning more about the programs and services offered by our Adopted Non-Profit, Whitney Young Health.

Our goal this year, was engagement, and I feel we have truly engaged more members of the Chamber in the Women’s Business Council than ever before. We’ve made sure members of the Schenectady and Albany-Colonie Chambers know that the Women’s Business Council is an extremely valuable added benefit of Chamber membership. Put all of this together, and 2017 truly exemplified our vision to inspire excellence together.

I am looking forward to 2018 and expanding on our accomplishments from 2017. As I pass my torch as Chair of the Women’s Business Council, I pleased to still be part of the 2018 Steering Committee. 

Days of Gratitude

Gratitude Jar

As we enter the season of giving, and with Thanksgiving being right around the corner, it’s not unusual for people to take a step back and reflect on all that we have to be grateful for. There are different ways that we can do this. My family has a tradition, as I’m sure many of yours do, of going around at the Thanksgiving dinner table and saying one thing you are truly grateful for this year.

Two years ago, during one of our Staff Development days, I gave each of my staff a glass mason jar, a small note pad of paper, and a pretty gel pen, and asked them to write their name, followed by “Gratitude Jar” on the jar tag. I told them that each day, they should try to find something they were grateful for, write it down on a piece of paper, and add it to their jar. Then, at the end of the year, they could go back and read each of them as a special day of gratitude.

This year, I was invited, with some of my friends, to take part in the Days of Gratitude for the month of November on Facebook. Each day, you write on Facebook something you are grateful for. Just think how fun it will be next year when you get your Time Hop memories!

Regardless of how big or small, there is always something to be grateful for. We are grateful for our spouses, our children, our family members, our friends. We are grateful for reconnecting with a long lost friend, for a random act of kindness by a stranger, for that much overdue night out with friends, and the laughs that make our stomachs hurt. We are grateful for our jobs, for our mentors, for the difference we are able to make in other people’s lives.

We are grateful for our health. For the ability to get out of bed in the morning. To enjoy snuggles from our furry babies while we have a cup of coffee. Thanksgiving was always a time for me to do this, but 14 years ago when I went home during Thanksgiving break to have my surgery to remove my cancer, it took on a whole new meaning of gratitude.

As we gear up for the holidays, reflect on what you’re grateful for. Ask your kids, your family, your friends, your work colleagues. If you can do something, big or small to make someone else’s holidays a little brighter, do so. If you are looking for something to do, join us at the WBC Annual Holiday Fundraiser to Benefit Whitney Young Health on December 12th from 11:30-1:30pm at the Desmond (Purchase Your Ticket Here).