There is No Finish Line: Defining Success through Passion and Purpose


Jaime Butler Binley, founder of Brand 21 will be speaking at the next Women’s Business Council lunch event on Tuesday, March 13.  Jaime enjoyed a successful career in Marketing in NYC and Saratoga before starting her own consultancy founded on the principle that market success is achieved through a Think Before You Build approach.

She is going to lead the audience through an introspective exercise that will have you thinking about what success looks like for you.

You will walk away with a set of tools that will help you:
• Recognize how to define your success while staying true to yourself
• How best to navigate the expected and the unexpected and continue to move forward
• Stay on track in the midst of the unknown

To sign up for this ‘personal and career development must’ event please click here.


13 Fears That Keep Women from Being Remarkable

Founder and CEO of Women Igniting Change™, Robbin Jorgensen caught up with us recently and shared how women leaders can overcome the status quo and become the fullest expression of who we are.  Below is some sage advice on how to overcome our irrational fears:

StockSnap_S1MTGHEBU4Whether you’re boldly walking into your boss’s office to discuss a conflict on your team or you’re walking onto the stage to deliver an important keynote address, you will likely be confronted with the rush of unease, nervousness, or, let’s face it, outright fear.

As women, we are all too familiar with how this feels – your palms get sweaty, your heart begins to race, you feel energy rushing through your body and all you can think about is how to avoid it: flee, fight, or freeze.

I’m not talking about the self-protective, instinctual fear that has evolved as a protection mechanism. That kind of fear is good for you. It rushes in when you’re in true danger and spikes your adrenaline so you can defend yourself or get to safety should the need arise. I call this rational fear.

The fear I’m talking about is the one that comes from your thoughts and is linked to your limiting beliefs about yourself and the world around you. This kind of fear is based in scarcity and self-doubt, and it keeps you stuck in a loop of inaction, rather than moving you forward toward what you want. I call this irrational fear.

In the organizations we work with, we help women leaders see their irrational fears for what they are: Falsehoods that keep them stuck in the status quo and prevent them from becoming the fullest expression of who they are.

I’ve compiled a list that I think shine a spotlight on the most common fears that cause women to shrink and shut down. The first step in getting rid of them is being able to identify what they are.

How many of these fears ring true for you?

  • Fear of being seen – This is when you try to fade into the background or hide rather than speak up, step forward, or insert yourself into situations.
  • Fear of living outside your comfort zones – This is when you refuse to try something new or to do anything that causes you to feel uncomfortable or awkward.
  • Fear of failure – This is when you avoid any situation, task, or commitment where uncertainty of success comes into play. You don’t try; therefore, you can’t fail.
  • Fear of feeling like a fraud – This is also called the imposter syndrome. It’s when you are convinced you have no idea what you’re doing, so you just fake it. You are sure that eventually “everyone” will find out.
  • Fear of being unprepared – This is when you never feel like something is quite ready.  It could always use one more tweak before you show it to anyone. You never move from novice to expert because you are plagued by self-doubt.
  • Fear of rejection – This is when the fear of hearing NO keeps you from trying anything at all. You are more concerned about the possibility of rejection than you are of reaching your highest level of success.
  • Fear of being wrong – This is when you don’t want to be seen as uninformed or ignorant.  You lack confidence so you refuse to assert your opinion or to contribute your knowledge and experience.
  • Fear of being ridiculed – This is when you are afraid of what “they” might say about you so you refuse to put yourself, your work, your opinions or your answers out for others to see.
  • Fear of not knowing enough – This is when you refuse to trust yourself. No matter how much education, training, or real-world experience you have, you are trapped by insecurity.
  • Fear of sounding stupid – This is when you are so afraid of what others think about what you have to say that you sit quietly and bite your tongue — even when you know you are right.
  • Fear of Success – While it may sound counterintuitive, many women are afraid of success.  Success requires you to be seen, to speak your mind, and to do more. The fear of others’ expectations, letting people down and letting yourself down is what fuels this fear.
  • Fear of speaking your truth – This is when you are certain about a visceral truth, yet you hold back your words anyway. Women often yearn to speak their authentic opinions, but go along with corporate norms for fear of backlash.
  • Fear of standing in your power – This one is HUGE. This one is a combination of all the other fears combined. It’s embodies a reluctance to honor your space in the world. This is a refusal to acknowledge your core values and your right to have a voice.

How many of those did you identify with? If you’re anything like me, you have several of these fears colluding together at any given time.  They’re toxic and they can become paralyzing. Isn’t it crazy how much we allow something that’s irrational to stop us from achieving our full potential?

The thing about these irrational fears is that once you step outside the self-talk loop and get a fresh perspective, you can see the folly in believing them.

If you’re really ready to release these fears that are holding you back, I recommend choosing ONE to start with.

Here is a three-step practice that you can begin to use immediately:

  1. Acknowledge your fear –Your body doesn’t know the difference between rational fears and irrational ones. Your physiological responses are the same. Take away some of the fear’s power by choosing to see it and deal with it.
  2. Ask it what it’s trying to tell you – The root of your fears is self-preservation. Yes, even the irrational ones are only trying to protect you. Ask your fear what it is trying to teach you, stop, and listen for the answer.  If you want to get a little advanced, write it down and you’ll start to see patterns emerge that you can address.
  3. Take one step away every day – Make a daily practice of taking a small, bold step away from your fear. Take control and defy it. Small wins away from fear will build your confidence, and several small wins will result in big accomplishments.

Overcoming your fears won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and persistence, and often, support from someone who can offer you a different viewpoint. But, if you stick with the practice, you can eventually see your fears for what they are and work around them.

If you’d like to speak with a Women Igniting Change™ strategic solutions partner about some of our innovative practices for creating an organization that transforms your women leaders into strategic business partners you can reach us at: or (888) 467-6127.

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. 

Darn Good Yarn CEO Nicole Snow, Named Inc. Rising Star, Raises Constellation of Women to Better Lives



If you haven’t had a chance to read your Chamber news blast, click on their link to read about how Darn Good Yarn CEO Nicole Snow’s company has helped 604 vulnerable women earn living wages and why Darn Good Yarn was recognized by Inc. Magazine as a 5000 honoree – one of five Rising Stars among the Inc. 5000’s first-time members. The Inc. 5000 recognizes the fastest growing private companies in the United States.\

Women of Excellence 2017: Kathleen Pingelski Recipient of Excellence in Business Award Shares her Wisdom About Resilience in the Workplace

I had an opportunity to gain some valuable insight from Kathleen Pingelski, this year’s recipient of the Excellence in Business Award, Women of Excellence. I am pleased to share it with our readers. kathleeen.jpg

“I think to achieve resiliency it’s important to stay positive in all situations, even when facing challenges. I encourage others to build healthy habits into their lifestyle, such as  meditation and exercise, to practice being present and to disconnect from technology on a regular basis.  Have laser focus on the goal or outcome you want to achieve and keep making forward progress.”

Kathleen Pingelski, President
MicroKnowledge, Inc. Computer Training and Consulting
ProKnowledge, LLC – Professional Development Training and Consulting


2017 Women of Excellence in Business Development Honoree Retires.

Just before she moved to Florida, I spoke with Suzann Smart, Executive Director, The Foundation for Ellis Medicine and the honoree for Excellence in Business Development for the Women of Excellence Awards 2017.
I asked her to give our members a few words of parting wisdom.
“If you want to remain excited and engaged with your work, try to learn something new every day.  Whether it’s about your field, a new way to be more effective using technology, something from a colleague or an article you read.  The changes happening around us are amazing. It can be energizing, but you have to remain engaged every day in learning and welcoming new ways of doing the profession you have chosen.
And it’s important to remember, if you don’t like your work, your boss, your employer, find another job. There are lots of exciting opportunities out there.
As for work habits:
Show Up.
Don’t keep people waiting.
Keep smiling.
Make your boss look good.
Don’t make the same mistake twice.
Answer emails and return phone calls.
Laugh and share the joy.
I want to thank the Chamber and my wonderful colleagues for this recognition. It has been a tremendous honor and I am grateful for the privilege of being named a Woman of Excellence.”
To see the five other honorees discuss what inspires them, come to the Women of Excellence Unplugged, hosted by Benita Zahn of NewsChannel 13, on September 19, sign up here.

How Three Letters Empowered Recognition of My Full Potential

Guest post by Kelsey Carr, Project Manager/Project Engineer for The Chazen Companies and co-chair of the WBC Women of Excellence Nomination Committee

At the first WBC Steering Committee meeting of 2017, Vice Chair Jackie Sheffer asked a series of tough questions, to which each member answered by physically moving to a corner representing strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. With Question 1, Does the WBC have the ability to change the world?, I found myself standing solo by the supersized post-it marked strongly agree, while the majority agreed. My logic was simple: Yes, the WBC can change the world because it has and continues to change my world.

Flashback to mid 2014, I was a shy, focused, dedicated, (did I mention shy?), project engineer, celebrating seven years at the only “real world” job I’d ever known. Having entered the workforce in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession, I was lucky to: 1) have a job 2) love my job and 3) be able to say I’ve had amazing mentors at Chazen for my entire career thus far. Little did I know that my whole world was about to change.

woe-kcarr-remarksThat winter, Chazen would nominate me for the Women of Excellence – Emerging Professional Award, which I would receive the following spring. In a whirlwind, I was introduced to my six fellow recipients, quietly listening to their incredible life stories and absorbing every word like a sponge. I would meet Ashley Jeffrey Bouck, our current WBC Chair and recipient of this award the previous year, who would act as my mentor through the process. Ashley, a young woman who inspires girls each and every day through Girls Inc., would quickly inspire me. She told me to use this opportunity to promote change for other young professionals and urged me to use my remarks at the luncheon to send a message. Finding the courage from deep within to take this advice, I discussed the societal expectations I had to overcome as a woman, an engineer, a millennial, and an advocate for hunger relief programs. I challenged the 600 person audience to close the gender gap, create opportunity, and reconsider these stigmas. In three minutes, I had gone miles outside of my comfort zone and there was no going back.

It took three letters, WOE, to fill a void that I didn’t realize was missing. It took three letters, and a whole network of incredible women, to leave me empowered to recognize both my worth and my potential. I spent the next one and a half years of my life on a path of immense personal growth, which would lead to the easiest choice of my life, becoming involved with the WBC. As Co-Chair of the WOE nomination committee, my goal is to use everything I have learned to empower other women in our community. By nominating an individual for the 26th Annual Women of Excellence Awards, you have the ability to do the same. Together, we can change the world.

2015 Women of Excellence award recipients

Nominations must be received no later than 5 pm on Thursday, January 31st. Click here to download the nomination form.

What I “C” in the WBC

From the Desk of Amanda Goyer, Foundation & Public Relations Administrator
CAP COM Federal Credit Union

As a mom and a woman in business, I know how hard it can be to find the right work-life balance. The Women’s Business Council is an affiliation with which I find value on both personal and professional levels. Here’s what I “C” as the valuable reasons to join this group of amazing women.

Connections: Most women find the connections formed at a Women’s Business Council event to be both professionally and personally uplifting. Networking is a key asset of each of our nine programs throughout the year. The council’s main objective is to get you connected with the right people to help you reach your goals.

WB“C” Moment: “To be in the room and have the opportunity to meet the amazingly supportive business women from the Capital Region. I have been attending regularly for the past three years and have built a support group that I can call on at any time for assistance, advice or fun,” said Jacqueline Sheffer, Financial Advisor at The Wagner Sheffer Group.

Content: The WBC provides educational information about hot topics in the business world. Programs members found memorable included C-Secrets from the C-Suite, where powerful women unveiled their trade secrets and the Women of Excellence event, honoring women in our Capital Region who are paving the way for business leaders of tomorrow. The WBC aims to inspire, empower and reinvigorate women (and men, too) so we can continue to climb the ladder together.Men are welcome to join us; we are all inclusive and hope to provide insight into how women in business think, relate and prosper, so we can work together to make a bigger impact.

WB“C” Moment: “I find the WBC programs and speakers are always relevant, interesting and inspiring.  Never do I leave a program without a take-away.  It might be an idea I want to implement in my personal or professional life, discovering the next must-read book for women or simply feeling connected to a room full of amazing and accomplished women,” said Nikki Caruso, MSW, Executive Director at the Colonie Youth Center, Inc.

Community: Perhaps the cherry on top of the WBC experience, is the annual adoption of a community organization to support. Whether it’s raising funds at our programs or digging in the dirt on the weekends, WBC members support the mission of the adopted nonprofit to bring awareness, funding support and volunteer efforts to life for these amazing pillars of inspiration and goodwill in our community.

WB“C” Moment: “Knowing that the WBC enables us to make it easy to support nonprofits in our community is an added benefit to being in attendance at these programs throughout the year,” said Diana VanAmerongen, Chief Banking Officer, CAP COM Federal Credit Union.

I hope you will come and be a part of this powerful circle of women – “C” what the WBC is all about! Stop by our next program, Women of Excellence Unplugged, on September 20 and join us at our upcoming Membertini this October where new members will mix and mingle (we will leave the “Tini” part up to you)! To learn more about the WBC or register for an upcoming event I encourage you to visit the Capital Region Chamber website.

Hope to “C” you soon!

Chelly Hegan’s Women of Excellence speech

(Paul Buckowski / Times Union)
(Paul Buckowski / Times Union)

The Times Union ran in print Chelly Hegan’s speech from the Women of Excellence luncheon a few weeks ago. It was inspiring and stirring and, we confess, almost all of us cried. That’s why we’re re-posting Hegan’s speech here, with her permission.

Today, I want to spend my moment here with you to talk about what the world is doing to women.

One hundred years ago, Margaret Sanger opened the first Planned Parenthood health center. She saw her own mother die after a lifetime of pregnancy and childbirth — 11 children and seven miscarriages. Sanger was responding to a crisis. Young women — mostly poor, predominately immigrant — were dying. Many lived lives that included loss of children, hard grinding work and short lives.

Sanger published pamphlets to instruct women on how to protect their health and to control their family size, convinced that taking control of this part of their lives might change their destiny. For this, she was arrested and imprisoned.

Some of her ideas are as controversial today as they were 100 years ago, but we have come a very long way. Young women now know where to go to get information and health care and they come to Planned Parenthood each and every day. Here in our area, we serve nearly 10,000 women each year. And yet there is still a crisis to which we must respond.

Women are still dying. Only now the method is different, but the causes may not have changed. In 2015, suicide rates among girls under the age of 15 rose by 200 percent from 1999. Suicide rates among all women under the age of 75 has risen 24 percent in that same time range. These numbers include a significant rise in deaths due to drug overdose.

At Planned Parenthood, we are doing what we have always done. Responding to the crisis with care. Developing programs and partnerships to assess and treat depression and anxiety, reducing the number of prescriptions we write for highly addictive substances and offering a safe, non-judgmental place for women to seek care.

But these are symptoms. Depression and addiction are the symptoms we need to treat, but the real diseases are inequality, judgment and stigma.

Young women are amazing. They are welcomed into a world that tells them they can do anything, and yet they often lack role models. They are told that they are valued for who they are, and yet the world tells them that they should be thinner, sexier or their skin should be whiter. They are asked for their opinions, and then spoken over the top of. They are told that they should not be sexual, and yet the women they see on TV and in magazines are sexualized constantly. They are told to develop self-esteem, and still their value is doled out according to conditions over which they have no control.

And yet, these young women persevere. Women are graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees at higher rates now than ever before. New businesses are more likely to be started by women. They are well-informed and political, in ways that the previous generations (mine included) was not.

So why are they dying?

I believe that they are exhausted. Exhausted by the discrimination they see no end to. That at times, when they know that their mothers and grandmothers worked so hard for equality and yet those fights are still alive, change seems quite hopeless. I believe that they sometimes feel invisible. So many assumptions abound about who they should be, what they should be.
How do we — a group of privileged women — help? What do we do to reverse this trend and snatch the power of this generation from slipping away?

We need to show our weakness more. We need to accept less-than-perfect more. We need to challenge ourselves to share our mistakes and obstacles, so that young women can see themselves as successful in all sorts of ways. So that they can define excellence for themselves.

I work every day for an imagined future of equality and justice. I believe that young women are the key to this future. Whatever I can do to keep them safe, cared for and strong, I will do. I hope that in this room full of accomplishment and power and strength, you will do the same. Our future women of excellence are counting on us all.

Chelly Hegan of Troy is president and CEO of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. This was adapted from a speech she gave June 3 at a Women of Excellence event sponsored by the Women’s Business Council.

Want to hear more from Chelly and the rest of this year’s Women of Excellence? Join the Women’s Business Council on Tuesday, September 20 for “Women of Excellence Unplugged” – an up-close-and-personal conversation with the 2016 WOE award recipients.  Click here to register.

My Top Five Takeaways from the May Brown Bag Lunch Discussion

This week’s Women’s Business Council’s brown bag lunch program at MVP Health Care was energizing and it gave me a new perceptive on how I define the ideal worker. Attendees discussed topics addressed in the book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time, by Brigid Schulte.

Jacqueline Scheffer was the moderator at our table. Jackie and I also had the pleasure of discussing topics addressed in the book with Lynn Manning, Miriam Dushane and members of her team.  It was refreshing to sit in a casual environment with successful women executives. Being a fairly new manager, I am always striving to improve my skills and maximize my time. I gained some new tips from the ladies at my table on how to be an effective leader and smart worker. You may be surprised by this list, it’s not about coming up with a to do list late Sunday night, or making sure you are the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave.

  1. It’s a great practice to have an open door policy, however; schedule times when you close your door. This concept can also be incorporated into turning off email notifications by using that nifty do not disturb feature.
  2. Respond to emails during business hours only. There’s no harm in responding after hours; set it in draft mode and send it off the next day.
  3. Schedule at least one day a month to work from home to work through a project for 90 minute shifts without interruption.
  4. Schedule at least one day a month during the week for a day of play which gives you sharp focus when tackling challenges at work. It also gives you something to look forward to.
  5. Empower your team to make decisions and take on responsibilities themselves. This tip translates both at work and home.

    I thought this picture was fitting. Make time in your life for play. Get your hands dirty. Spend time with your children so you can be a part of these defining moments for them. This is my daughter seven years ago.  I remember taking this picture and sharing the joy she had with playing in the mud. Time is short. Make time for what you love.