Archive for the ‘Guest Blogs’ Category


September 25, 2013

swampsWherever you live, you are working and establishing relationships with people, doesn’t matter to which culture you belong, everybody knows simple things like what it is to wake up in the morning and look forward to your day…like human beings. This is the basic issue.

Now I belong to the group of legal immigrants that came to the United States. I became part of….I acquired a new culture and way of life of this human society: the United States, a nation rich in diversity and with one of the most fluid, complex and democratic culture in the world.  My challenge is not only to recognize the cultural practices, also to change many of my own. I want to be able to effectively function and communicate with this culture.

To start a new life includes learning about the job market and competition, knowing about the economy of the country and, in this case, the United Sates is a country with abundant natural resources, a well- developed infrastructure, and high productivity. But when you think about what an ideal community would look like, you are faced with reality. Societies around the world are growing at different rates, unequal, which is one of the biggest social, economic and political challenges of our time, and the United States is no exception.

Diminishing inequality will reduce poverty. Inequality differs widely around the planet and the definitions of the poverty line may vary significantly among nations. An example of this is the United States, a rich country applying “generous” standards of poverty versus Colombia in South America, my mother’s country. Poverty defined “as an economic condition of lacking both money and basic necessities needed to successfully live, such as food, water, education, healthcare, and shelter”([i]).

To make a comparison between these both nations, I selected the perspective of the population living below the national poverty line by The World Fact book. The poverty line is the minimum level of income deemed adequate in a given country.

– United States 15.1% (2010 est.)
– Colombia 34.1% (2011 est.)

As I mentioned the poverty line is significantly higher in developed countries than in developing countries ([ii]). For example, in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia a family of 4 people and with a Household annual Income of $23,550 is considered Poverty. A worker that earns the minimum wage per month in Colombia- South America will receive monthly a total of $660 thousand pesos, with an exchange rate per dollar of $1.919,54 pesos, in dollars is an amount of $343.83 dollars and the situation could be that only one person works at home.

If we analyze local data, in Charleston County, 16.8% of the population is below poverty level and the unemployment rate 8.1 %.( United States Census of Bureau). However population can change due to births, deaths or migration and this last one is very difficult to estimate especially since many of them are in an illegal situation. For this reason, the problem could be worst and “be under the rug”.

The goal is to have a prosperous and competitive economy in our County and in order to progress and to compete. South Carolina needs to be culturally competent with international educational standards, especially in language standards, ready for a global economy. Education is a condition for building and supporting a strong economy that delivers higher wages and higher profits. As a seaport Charleston is connected to the world.

LBM pic_ modifiedLupe Barragan-Moser is a BA Communications with a MBA- Development projects with 15+ years of experience in the areas of Internal/External Communications and projects manager in the non profit sector. She’s a mother of two children 22 and 27 years old, the smallest  in the family of three sisters and still has her mother alive. She grew up in a women sight world in Barranquilla, Colombia. She shares her life of the last 4 years with her husband.  Love was the reason to come to life in Charleston and she enjoys it tremendously … river, sea , sun and beautiful smiling face people.


[ii] Hagenaars, Aldi & de Vos, Klaas The Definition and Measurement of Poverty. Journal of Human Resources, 1988)(Hagenaars, Aldi & van Praag, Bernard A Synthesis of Poverty Line Definitions. Review of Income and Wealth, 1985.


Giving Back and Paying Ourselves

August 2, 2013

Businesswoman giving thumbs upI recently moved here and joined the Center for Women. I meet so many great, mature women who are at a “crossroads” in their lives and career and they don’t see much opportunity ahead on the horizon.  When we talk about what they really want to do, going forward, many say that they would love a new career, in the non-profit sector, helping people in some way, giving back to their community.

This is a wonderful ambition.

But let me play “devil’s advocate” for a minute.

Today, what do most, if not all non-profits need? Regardless of the cause they support, what is most lacking?

Think for a minute? What are they crying out for?


Government funding has been cut, contributions are harder to come by and to do what they need to do, they need additional CASH.  Usually, they have enough talent. They need financial resources.

What do most women, looking into or changing a career need?


We need to make enough money to pay our expenses, educate our children, and retire-or at least have the choice to retire- someday.

So, how can we as women serve both purposes?

We need to find work in growing fields that pay a living wage and give us opportunities for the future. Then with some of the money we earn, we can give back to the non-profits we want to support through cash contributions and volunteering our time. Just imagine for a moment that you had the opportunity to work for a non-profit, earning $3000 a month or a for-profit company earning $4000. You could decide to give 10% of your income to your non-profit ($4800 a year) and still have an additional $7000 or so to invest for your future.

So, right now, where can we go to earn more money and how can we prepare to get there?  Where are some of the opportunities?

I am going to highlight 3.

  1. Coding/Web Design/ SEO: Many people think this is a “young persons” career but it is not. Many people have come to this later in life and are doing well.  Where do you get training?  Here in Charleston, one place is Trident Tech and if you want to do this online, there are some excellent courses. A new one I heard about today is  One Month Rails but there are many others.
  2. Nursing: There is a growing need for nurses and, based on our aging population, probably no end in sight. It does take longer to become a nurse and/or going into other health related fields and you may need some financing or scholarships. And you don’t earn money while attending school so it is not a choice for everyone.
  3. Your Own Business: Become an Entrepreneur. You won’t make a lot of money right off the bat, but becoming your own boss can have long term financial benefits. You might want to start with some free-lancing along with other work. At first, on the free-lancing sites, you don’t make much money because you need to build your reputation.  But look at sites like taskrabbit, elance and odesk. And Google is trying to help us with some free support for building and hosting websites for our businesses.

The story of John Templeton always inspired me. Templeton considered becoming a missionary in China, but he found he was ill-suited for it. So he came back here and grew his fortune in the stock market with the Templeton Funds.  With that fortune, he was able to help many people who needed his contributions.

Maybe not at his level, but maybe some of us can do the same and help those who need us.

BarbaraFowlerBarbara Fowler is a CMO and Partner with Chief Outsiders in the Charleston, SC area.
Follow her on twitter at @barbfow50 or contact Barbara at 908-956-4529 or email at

Becoming a Go Giver

June 28, 2013

Businesswoman shouting her victory to the world

by Karen Stawicki

The Go Giver, by Bob Burg and David Mann has transformed my life.

Almost 4 years ago, a dear friend had told me that she had been given this book and could not put it down and thought I should read it. She shared with me that when she got to the end…..she had tears, lots of them….interesting I thought.

I read the book in one sitting and you likely will too (I do recommend having a tissue nearby).  I gave the book  to my husband while we were on a cruise and he read it in one sitting and then our (then 21 year old) son did the same one afternoon hanging out poolside.  Oh, and yes, when he got to the end of the book, even though he was sporting an awesome pair of Ray Bans…I saw a few tears trickling down his cheeks.  He later confided in me that he was glad I gave him that book and said reading it would forever change his life.

What are we all looking for?  Why do we attend networking groups?  Having been in the financial services business for over 30 years, I have seen a lot of prosperity and more recently, a lot of hardship.  But in all of it, most recently, I have seen that business is not as usual. People know that we must do things differently.  Showing up, shoving a card in someone else’s hands expecting that they will call you is something of the past.  Today it’s about relationships…period.

As a result of having read this book I felt compelled to do something, so I started a group that would meet in my office once a month.  The third Wednesday of every month.  We called the group TWAS; (Third Wednesday At Stawicki’s) and for over two years, that group met every month.  The premise of the group was simply to find a way to introduce quality people to quality people… like Pindar in the book; I wanted to be “The Connector”.

That’s what this little red book is all about.  Ultimately we learn that the secret to success is GIVING!

This book takes you; along with Joe, on a wonderful journey of truths.  On this journey we are introduced to the FIVE LAWS OF STRATOSPHERIC SUCCESS.  As Joe learns each LAW, he also needs to apply the law the day he learns it….

What a novel idea…how many of us have learned something, actually had an “ah ha moment” over something that we believed would be life changing but somehow never got the chance to apply it… and then “poof” it’s gone!

I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and take the journey.  I can only tell you that as a result of reading this amazing story, I have bought and shared over 110 copies of the book with people I’ve met, business associates, clients… those I just wanted to bless.

Having just moved here to Charleston two months ago, I am reminded as I share this story with others of the wonderful “chemistry” that just happened through the sharing of the Go Giver.  I’ve already given two copies to people I’ve met and am wondering if TWAS might not find a new home here in Charleston soon.


Karen has been passionate about sharing her knowledge as it relates to finance but more specifically creating a plan for everyone that she works with that’s based on more than hope!

She has been applauded by her clients and others for having a way of making complex, intangible concepts like retirement planning easy to understand and implement.

In addition to her work with investment and retirement planning, Karen loves to speak and is always looking for quality groups to share her stories with…topics include finance of course, The Go Giver as well as Her Testimony and  how Agape Love saved her marriage a decade ago.

Karen is married to her husband Greg  of now 33+ years and together they have two children, Samantha and Scott.

Finding a Different Road

June 14, 2013

your careerFor most of us, there comes a time when we need to find a new career path. Whether it is because we no longer are finding satisfaction in our present one, or the income potential is not there or the change has been imposed on us by a downsizing or re-engineering, the truth is that in today’s world, it is very rare for someone to start and end their career in the same profession.

Unfortunately, for many of us, this happens when we are in our late 40s or 50s and it is not that easy to start down a new path. It can be very frightening. What do I recommend? First and foremost, PIA: Prepare in Advance. Never take for granted that you won’t have a change in your work. Always have a Plan B. Prepare yourself to have choices.  Some of the saddest people I have encountered are people who feel they don’t have choices, they are stuck and cannot or will not leave a career until they are forced.

To have those choices, here are my four best tips:

YOU might be asking, why do I feel I can give advice on this? Well, like many of you it happened to me.

Before joining Chief Outsiders, I was with Prudential for 30 years, switching careers several times. I started as a tax lawyer, went to marketing, training, sales, and management, and then was asked to start field operations in Argentina, Poland, and Asia. I loved it.  However, after those 30 years, it became obvious to me that my opportunities to make a further contribution there were limited. It was depressing, but that was the reality of the situation. I had to leave. The change was tough.

But with every change, you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself. I don’t mean you change everything, but you have the chance to think about what went right, what went wrong, what you could have done differently, and what you want to do better in the future.

I liked marketing and sales. I enjoy the challenge of developing and implementing a plan to grow revenue. I enjoyed developing team performance and aligning sales and marketing teams. So when I was looking for my next career, joining a company that provided fractional and part-time CMO services to a variety of different companies fit my needs. But it’s totally different. When you are a VP and CMO with a big company like Prudential, you have lots of help, lots of benefits, and your title lends you immediate credibility. Starting over with a new company, developing my contacts, handling the administrative side, and finding health insurance was new. It’s a transition! One of my favorite quotes is by Benjamin Disraeli: “The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes.” So many people I’ve met want guarantees that they will be successful if they do certain things, like get an MBA or take on a new position. There are no guarantees. But every time you take a risk, you gain new perspective and new insights, and you are prepared for more. Failure – and getting up from it – teaches you so much.

I recently moved to Charleston so in addition to a new career, it is in a new place.

Barbara-Lucey-410Barbara Fowler is a Partner and CMO with the Southeast Team at Chief Outsiders. They provide part-time marketing executives to help mid-sized businesses grow. Fowler’s specialties lie in sales and marketing synchronization, global business strategies, and family business turnaround techniques. A frequent speaker and writer on topics such as leadership, cultural diversity, and developing an environment of success, she has effectively led culturally diverse organizations and written and implemented training programs for CMOs worldwide.

The greatest obstacle women face

May 10, 2013

JaceyVDepending on my age, I have given a variety of answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Kindergarten: teacher, because I admired my teacher.
Fourth grade: famous author, because people praised my writing and why wouldn’t I believe I was good enough to be famous?
High school: lawyer, because writing isn’t a “realistic” career ambition, and I wasn’t as good as I’d once believed.
Post grad: No idea, but benefits and a living wage would be a good start.

When someone asks what you want to be, they’re really asking what you want to do. We make decisions about what we do in an attempt to be something else: financially secure, happy, respected, famous.

I’ve constantly changed my mind about what I want to do, but I’ve always wanted to be one thing: proud of myself.

This enigmatic, slippery state of being has proven impossible to grasp for more than a few moments at a time because it is a double edged sword. On one side, I’m looking to others to affirm me. I need someone else to tell me that who I am and what I’m doing is sufficient.

On the other side, my own standards are higher than anyone else’s. “Oh, you think I did a good job? Well, thanks, but I should have finished it earlier and let me point out the mistakes I made.”  

I’m writing in black and white here, but more often than not, I discount my achievements and place in the world until someone else affirms them, and then deflect the recognition when I do get it. It’s an exhausting, impossible quest, and I know I’m not alone.

At a time of unprecedented opportunity for women, my own experience leads me to believe that the greatest obstacle for women today is…ourselves.

Women continue to rise to leadership positions in almost every industry, proving their competence and value. It’s inspiring, but I can’t help but wonder: for every woman succeeding publicly and privately, how many intelligent potential influencers have we lost to their own insecurities? How many have believed the outdated script that their ideas are not worth sharing? How many have sold themselves short, waiting voluntarily in the wings without even trying out for the part?

My own self limiting beliefs have held me back personally more than any outside opposition. No legislation, corporate policy, or cultural enlightenment will make a difference if we don’t first believe in ourselves.

A note to myself, and you, too:

Your value doesn’t depend on what you accomplish. You have a lot to offer, but no one will know until you believe you are valuable and competent, that your ideas are worth sharing, that your skills and knowledge are beneficial to the people around you. Whether those people are your coworkers, husband, children, or friends, everyone is missing out when you live life as an apology instead of a statement.

Jacey Verdicchio loves good books and deep conversations. You can find her on her blog, The Balanced Wife, where she pursues exceptional living and often falls short. She lives with her husband, Michael, and dog, Jack.

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