Anna Letitia Cook, founder of English Angels

Anna Letitia CookAnna Letitia Cook is the founder of English Angels, a company that teaches Business English to professionals who work at corporations in Europe. She has lived in many countries and has started several businesses along the way. Her versatility has enabled her to bridge cultures with ease and to change industries and careers as her interests evolved. She’s bringing the Red Shoe Movement to France, a country where women have a tough time achieving parity.

Tell us a bit about yourself (where were you born, where you lived, what degrees you have, where you live now).

I was born and raised in England. I love exploring and embracing new cultures. Before setting up this business I worked for 25 years in industries such as oil/petrochemical, defence, stockbroking, international investments and commercial real estate (including castle/country hotel sales and renovations) in several countries in Europe as well as in the other side of the pond, Canada, USA and particularly Bermuda!

I originally studied Business Management & Marketing (with options Politics, Economics, Translating/Interpreting). Besides English, I speak Spanish, French and some Italian.

When I’m not working, I’m relaxing in a lovely longère in the heart of Brittany with my Breton other half. He is a fanatical marathon-runner which means we regularly get to visit other countries so he can run his legs off while I take photos and sip coffee!

How did you get to the place in your career where you’re now?

English Angels developed from having taught colleagues and clients for years in the various countries where I worked, leading me to a career change to become a TEFL-TESOL teacher, specialising in Business English.

I am also an International Business Skills Coach as well as a ‘Speak Like a Native’, Genuine Language Fluency Coach using and introducing the visionary OPAL Methodology developed by Yves Thevenot.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a professional woman working in corporations in France?

It is much more difficult for a woman to be taken seriously here due to the very different mentality that exists in France and the workplace, as well as some rather traditional attitudes regarding women, careers and equality.

Entrepreneurship is still very much in its infancy compared to USA, UK, Germany and other Anglo-Saxon based cultures. Openly admitting that you are ambitious and career driven is unusual and not necessarily well thought of or respected.

In reality, it is an unfortunate fact that women still tend to earn less than men, have less possibilities for career advancement and in general are considered to be more ‘light weight’.

This is one of the main reasons I am so involved with the Red Shoe Movement and am introducing it to France. I see so many women here who are trying to improve their situation, find opportunities, respond to challenges and achieve closer equality with men. Many of the professional women I know here are very frustrated with their situation but find it difficult to progress when they are more or less isolated and feel that no one encourages them. I think the solidarity that can be found from interaction with other women in the Red Shoe Movement would be a great inspiration and support to professional women here in France.

What do you find the most satisfying part of your work?

  • The contact with people, being able to help them gain in confidence so they no longer fear participating in international work environments.
  • I particularly love the ‘light-bulb moment’ when I see that a client has understood that other nationalities really do think totally differently. It is very rewarding when they can see that we all have different values and beliefs and work in different ways.
  • When the client then realises that, due to this different vision, they need to adapt their way of presenting, introducing, negotiating, etc. to achieve positive interaction and successful relationships, and when they genuinely wish to do so, it is a truly great moment.

What advice do you have for other women who have unusual (or challenging) career goals?

  • Go for your dream, follow your vision, plan it out on paper, as with planning the dream becomes a goal and is attainable.
  • Do it for yourself and for your own fulfilment and self-respect… If you have negative vibes from your entourage, don’t bother with fighting them, don’t stress, don’t get upset, just keep on moving ahead to your goal – remember that you are doing it for you! Don’t try and talk them around or convince them, they are not you, they don’t have your vision, they don’t understand what makes you fulfilled and alive… 9 times out of 10 any negative vibes stem from envy, lack of self-confidence or fear of change.
  • It is never too late, age doesn’t enter into the equation.

On a practical level I would say planning, organization and small regular steps forward are the key… Before you start anything make a detailed plan, with times, dates, objectives, milestones and key phases all laid out… Become your own project manager. Be prepared to adapt and modify as you progress and the real world changes direction… This can really help you keep on track and not get distracted. It keeps you motivated and focused.

Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfil their career goals?

I have 2 clients who are struggling at the moment. They have had a few difficult moments so alongside my professional relationship with them, I am supporting them with a mixture of mentoring and coaching to help them through their problems, to keep them looking forward and to boost their confidence. I am also giving them steps to follow to keep them focused and advancing to their newly defined objectives. I am also bringing my own network into action to enlarge their audience and potential field of operation.

I am introducing the Red Shoe Movement to all my female clients here in France. They are extremely positive and motivated by it so we now have quite a few businesses where the number of red shoes appearing on a Tuesday is increasing regularly. I am also talking about it to all my male clients – and to my great amazement have had a very positive response from them. Not only have they suggested wearing red socks to show their support, but also several have asked for information that they can give to their female colleagues/friends/family.

Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?

Many years ago an old school-friend helped me to establish my career in Bermuda. Without her I would never have gained the extensive international experience and contacts I acquired from my work in Bermuda.

For motivation and confidence, there are 3 women in particular (two British, Pippa and Sally; one French, Andréa) who have helped me by their constant support, encouragement and total belief in me and my abilities. Their faith in me has been so strong that even when occasionally I have wanted to give up, I have kept going because of them.

Professionally there was one woman, Madeleine, who invited me to work with her to provide the skills she lacked. Working together we expanded successfully enough to enable us both to develop independent but complementary businesses in Spain.

You can connect with Anna via her social media:
http://fr.linkedin.com/in/annaletitiacook/en
http://twitter.com/EnglishAngels
http://facebook.com/EnglishAngels

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Marisela Riveros, forward thinker in the media world

Marisela RiverosHow did you get to where you’re now at IBM and with your own company.

It’s been a long road, but there is a lot more left to walk…

Like most of us in broadcast media, I started building my career from the ground up. I got my feet wet as an intern at CNN in New York City, where Patricia Pedraza, my first mentor, showed me the ropes in the world of television news.

Then, after graduating from college I landed my first job as technical operator at Bloomberg Television. There, I climbed through the ranks. I worked in both radio and television as a production assistant, writer, reporter, and lastly as senior producer. At Bloomberg I had the opportunity to learn everything there is to learn about making live television news. From satellites and fiber optics, breaking stories that move world markets, to delivering an objective and accurate message to the public.

I have always been interested in technology and in learning how things work from the inside out. So, when the opportunity presented itself to go back to school to pursue an MFA in Design and Technology at Parsons, I seized it. Making the decision to go back to school was not easy, and it wasn’t in my immediate plans, but if asked, I would do it again. At Parsons I was able to update my skills in media. My focus was transmedia; web and mobile development, and my thesis on reinventing the television production process integrating the television connected to the cloud, to create a rewarding interactive experience for audiences in real time.

My well-rounded media background opened opportunities I never imagined, among them, landing my current position in the digital content strategy team at IBM.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a woman in an American corporation?

Throughout my career in broadcast media and technology I am often the only woman, or the only “other” woman in the room. But, I never considered that being a challenge. I see that as an achievement. I’m a small-city girl from Venezuela who has worked at three of the largest media and technology companies in the world. I am where I am because of my dedication and hard work.

What advice do you have for other women who have unusual (or challenging) career goals?

The path to success is not supposed to be easy. It would be very boring if it were. The hardest part is to have a goal, a purpose. Once you have it set, all you have to do is focus. Nothing should stop you then.

Have patience. You do reap what you saw, and your hard work will be noticed, even though sometimes it takes longer than we would like. Be confident in yourself. You know what you are good at, and you should focus your energy in being the best at what you do. Be a forward thinker.

Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals?

I recently finished my master’s degree and graduated with a group of young women. I encourage them to define a career goal for themselves based on what contribution they want to give to their profession, their community, the world. I also advised them to consider the current economy in their plan. Having dreams is key to keep moving forward, but we also have to have a realistic plan on how to achieve them.

Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?

Annette Arocho-Bautista, Program site director, NJIT.

Annette held my hand through the maze of applying for college. Thanks to her I applied to Montclair State University where I studied under an amazing team of professors who gave me all the right tools to navigate the broadcast world.

Patricia Pedraza, New York Bureau Chief, CNN en Español.

Patricia was my first mentor. I will always look up to her as one of the best television news producers in our times. She showed me the ropes for how to “make it happen” in the edit room, the studio, and in the field.

Joan Renner, Digital Marketing Manager, IBM

Joan is my current mentor. Every day I learn from Joan. She has given me the opportunity to grow professionally in the digital media world as we shape the future of the Web.

You can connect with Marisela through social media: Linkedin and Twitter.

Kelly Dooley, BodyRock

Kelly DooleyHow did you get to where you are professionally today?

I always say that I started BodyRock on the day before my first marathon, which was The Walt Disney Marathon in Orlando. I kept searching for a fun and funky sports bra with a pocket at the expo where I went to pick up my race number. I couldn’t find anything and that led me to my aha moment where I thought, “I should create a line of sports bras that are equally fashionable and functional for women like myself.” I headed back to NYC after the race and began conceptualizing and designing exactly what I believed a sports bra should look and feel like. I knew that I had to make something functional since I am so active but I knew I needed and wanted to create pieces that were still very feminine and stylish. I believe I’m a born entrepreneur. Starting a company would happen once I had the right idea…something that I absolutely couldn’t resist. I knew that my father founded his own company (Dooley Enterprises) with that same enthusiasm towards what he loved; he couldn’t find the right air scope he needed to race boats and from that, he subsequently revolutionized the racing industry. BodyRock was essentially born from me realizing a void in the active wear market and having the determination to be the one to fill it. Though he passed when I was seven, I feel as though that spirit is embedded in me. Thus, BodyRock was born out of a void in the active wear market because I could not find the perfect sports bra for one of my races.

Share with us your biggest challenges as a woman in business and how you overcame them.

A challenge for me is letting go. BodyRock is my baby and just as a mother is with her child, I want to be a part of every aspect of the life that goes into this company. It’s a very personal thing for me and it’s challenging at times to let others take the helm on certain things but I know that it’s a very important part of running a successful company and being a well-rounded and successful businesswoman.

Any advice you may have for other women in pursuit of exceptional professional dreams. What motivated you?

My motivation and inspiration is from all the powerful and inspiring women in my life and in this world. There are so many strong, and incredible women and have beat the odds in many ways. Having them share a part of what I’m passionate about motivates me immensely. For young women, regardless of what field they work in and are passionate about, I would always tell them to follow your instinct, treat others the way you wanted to be treated, always work hard, dream big, never give up and stay true to yourself. It’s also important to surround yourself with positive and inspiring people; don’t burn bridges because you never know who you might need and swallow your pride so you can learn from your mistakes. Remain the unique person that you are; that’s what is going to distinguish you from everyone else. Do you!

How do you support other women?

I have a collection of ‘Empower ‘Em’ bras that are mastectomy bras and are my way of giving my own special something back to the women who are battling and have survived breast cancer. A portion of the proceeds from each bra from the collection that’s sold goes to the American Cancer Society. I am a big believer in charity and this is a part of BodyRock that means so much to me. Also, each BodyRock bra is named after a strong woman— someone I personally know or otherwise. I’m a big girl power advocate and I believe in celebrating the beauty that lies in each and every woman.

You can connect with Kelly on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Also be sure to check out her store BodyRock Sport!

Ana Flores, inspiring Latinas to blog and raise bilingual kids

ana-flores-lgAna Flores is a well-known blogger, entrepreneur and a recently published author of the book, Bilingual is Better which she co-wrote with Roxana A. Soto about raising bilingual kids. She’s one of the most beloved personalities in the Latino blogosphere, always open to support other women by making sure not only that their voices are heard but that they are compensated for their writing. Something a lot of people have given up on when it comes to writing online.

Tell us how you got to where you’re now with Latina Bloggers Connect.

Latina Bloggers Connect was something that happened very naturally for me and was a succession of events that made it clear that I had to launch it. Back in 2010 the group of Latina bloggers was still relatively small and very few of us were actually making money out of it. My other blog, SpanglishBaby.com, was a year old and was barely starting to receive attention from brands in the form of compensation, but it was still minimal. We knew a real industry existed because there were a handful of blogger networks creating sponsored campaigns for bloggers, but there wasn’t one that was creating strategies that were culturally relevant to Latinas, much less in Spanish.

By then I was consulting for a couple of major brands on how to craft culturally relevant campaigns and to help them identify who the Latina bloggers were. At the same time, I was very entrenched within my community of bloggers and we had created private online groups to help elevate each other and learn together. A very influential mom blogger who was not Latina, noticed this and urged me to create a blogger/brand network and make it a business. So I did. Within three months I had launched, all on my own and with zero financial backing, what is now Latina Bloggers Connect. We were the first ones in the space to start creating campaigns. From day one we embraced Latina bloggers from every niche. We launched in November of 2010 with a brand ambassador and a bilingual Twitter party campaign for Sprint and followed up with Clorox.

Two years later, our network has grown incredibly, as has the Latina blogosphere, and our client list includes mostly Fortune 500 companies, with most of them coming back for repeat campaigns.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a woman entrepreneur?

I don’t think too much of my challenges exist because I’m a woman. My biggest challenge is actual financial and business acumen. I’m always thinking that I should have listened to my mami when she urged me to compliment my Bachelors in Communications with a minor in Business Administration. I was way too necia and had a huge fear of numbers. I wished I would have just embraced that fear back then!

What advice do you have for other women who have unusual (or challenging) career goals?

To ask for help. Always ask for help and learn to delegate from day 1. When you launch something all on your own it feels good to get those first checks and want to cash in on them because you most likely need them since you’ve been investing your own. I learned that since I’m bootstrapping my business, I have to continue to reinvest in hiring more people, outsourcing what I can, and grow.

Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals.

I’m a connector by nature. When I know that someone is looking for a job or a specific opportunity and I can see their qualities upfront, I somehow always end up making a valuable connection for them. Many times the key has been that these women have swallowed their pride and have asked for specific help. That puts them front and center for me and I’m better able to help them.

Also, when I launched LBC it was amazing the amount of emails and comments I got from bloggers that had never made a penny from their blog and how great it felt to get that first payment from us. They finally felt validated and that was a huge motivation.

Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?

So many! My SpanglishBaby partner and friend Roxana Soto for embarking on the crazy blogging journey with me. Jennifer James, responsible for giving me that initial push to create LBC.

Natalie Judd for believing in my talent and giving me my first social media consulting gig.

Ana Roca Castro for creating a space for Latinas(os) to have a powerful voice.

Susan Stipcianos of The Dream Team Agency for being a friend forever and opening doors.

BIB-bookMore about Ana Flores

www.spanglishbaby.com

www.spanglishbabyplayground.com

www.latinabloggersconnect.com

www.bilingualisbetter.net