“Success without a plan is just an accident,” stated Kristi Royse, CEO and Founder of KLR Consulting, while moderating the panel discussion for “Women in Business: Growth & Impact.” DZH Phillips, Comerica Bank and Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP brought together female executives to discuss their business and the strategies behind their success. Our panel included, Sheila Stanziale, CEO of Mighty Leaf Tea, Rhonda Brewster, President and Co-Founder of Mosaic Global Transportation, Pamela Kan, President of Bishop-Wisecarver Group and Christina Seelye, CEO and Founder of Maximum Games, and here is what they had to share:

Keeping Your Vision Alive

Kristi began by asking, “What makes people in companies successful and happy?” She was curious to know if our panel thought it was education, talent, vision or luck.  Rhonda stated that a plan was most important to her overall success, and as a good rule for her business, she tries to plan one to three years out when trying to keep her vision intact. She also stated that it’s good to have someone to check in on your progress to make sure you are accomplishing what you wanted and making sure things are moving along, “otherwise, it’s just a dream.” Rhonda also stated that confidence in your decision making was important, as ideas and plans may change mid-stream, it’s best to make a decision that moves you forward instead of standing still.

Pamela mentioned the importance of vision re-assessment, as the marketplace is constantly changing and growing in different directions and your business should change and shift with it, as well as your willingness to allow your vision to change.

Managing Risks vs. Reward

Earning the trust of your colleagues is a constant journey. Pamela stated she would have made ultimatums much earlier on if she could. Kristi then asked the panel to share their stories of mistakes, victories and inception. Sheila noted three things she practices, which include understand your market value, thinking carefully of your risk vs. reward and to have a work/life balance as much as possible. “You’re never going to have low risk,” stated Sheila. She also mentioned that you have to be willing to take risks to get the rewards you want (which can come in different packages). Sheila also mentioned her rule to help maintain work/life balance is to plan out a 90 day timeline and map out how you are going to prioritize your time.

Learning Through Failure

“If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough,” stated Christina. Christina discussed the importance of allowing her team to try new things and not to get hung up on the mistakes and failures. She mentioned that it’s ok to push the limits a little and lets her staff know that it’s ok if it doesn’t work out. She explained how she was personally “failure-motivated” yet her partner was “success motivated” and understanding each other’s motivations is important to take note of, as everyone works and thinks differently.

Rhonda stated, “If you fail, don’t let it get your confidence down.” She mentioned how important is was to maintain confidence, stay tenacious and to try new things.

Personal Advisory Board

Sheila explained the importance of having a group of personal advisors to tap into, “truth tellers,” as she called them, as this allows her to look at situations in different angles and approach business matters in a more tactful way. She also noted that your advisors should sing your praises, though they shouldn’t always agree with you. Having a group of people from various levels of experience offers different points of views, various industry experience and overall business resources. Sheila mentioned it’s important to not “wear out” your personal advisors and to tap into each of them at different times.

Growth and Stability

Christine’s 6 year old company, Maximum Games, has been experiencing rapid growth, as it’s now the 17th top video game business in the U.S., she stated that having a year of stabilization to plan and rest will be important, as this time will allow for new team leadership and further building. Christine mentioned that she can now self-reflect and feels more comfortable with uncovering what tasks she’s good at vs. not and having the ability to pass off some of her workload is going to be key to the growth cycle of their business.

Work/Life Balance

Rhonda discussed that running a business can consume your mind and that sometimes she couldn’t stop thinking about her work. She stated that she had to work at being “intentionally present” with family and friends, and what’s helped her personally, is to schedule 30 minute meetings with her family, as it’s important to have that time and to create meaningful moments.

Christina stated, “There is no perfect answer to work/life balance.” A mentor once told Christine, “You have all these gifts as a human, don’t try to divide it up.” She stated that within a 24 hour day you’re “still mom” and that you have to focus on different things and it’s helpful to look at it as “fluid vs. balance,” and that “stress makes people productive, but it can kill you.”

Sheila stated to ask yourself, “What’s important now?” A helpful tactic for her day-to-day is to think about two or three things that’s important over the next few weeks, as it’s easier to think about and handle. In her wallet, Sheila carries a laminated list of goals in order from top to bottom, such as family, work and faith, or even detailed items, which changes on a regular basis.

Best Practices

Kristi mentioned how she makes a point to read 35 books related to her business each year, she also recommended the book, “Grit” by Angela Duckworth, as it captures many of the feelings and thoughts discussed throughout this event.

In conclusion, we uncovered that there is no true hard and fast way of doing things “correctly” when it comes to growing a business, scheduling family time around work or keeping your vision intact, as life is ever-changing. It’s important to keep an open mind and remain confident while making business decisions, and remember that it’s ok to fail sometimes.