I had the pleasure of interviewing Judy Hoberman, founder of Selling in a Skirt. Judy Hoberman is President of Walking on the Glass Floor and Selling In A Skirt, companies that are both focused on empowering professional women. She is an International Speaker, Trainer, Executive Coach, Author, Radio Show host and Mentor.
Judy also works with companies supporting their diversity and women’s initiatives in the areas of leadership, recruiting, training, coaching, mentoring and retention. She offers a complete training program that concentrates on women in leadership, the men that champion them, with a concentration on Redefining Culture.
Judy’s mission…to help One Woman A Day by following an important philosophy-“Women want to be treated equally, not identically” ™
Can you tell our readers about your background?
A wise woman told me to always look for the root cause of why we do what we do. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, many young girls were told we weren’t old enough or tall enough or smart enough to do even the smallest things. It was also the time when I was told “girls don’t do that.” Pairing “not enough” with “girls don’t do things like this” is not a winning combination.
For much of my life, I thought of myself as a square peg in a round hole. I never truly fit in. My parents had one idea of who I was supposed to be, and I had other plans. So I did what others thought I should … until I couldn’t any longer.
My saving grace was my grandmother who was a true trailblazer for women. She always said, “Judy, follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you truly want to do. It may not happen today, but it will happen.” She was right. It did happen, albeit fifty years later.
What inspired you to start your business?
Everything I did in my professional life found me to be the only or one of the only women in that company or industry. I had to create my own playbook to be successful. I started in construction and then finally found my “home” in Insurance that lasted for decades. Because I was female and because I built relationships, I was promoted and finally got to a top position when it was discovered that I might know what I was talking about. It was a few years later that I was asked if I would consider moving to Dallas and building a training department… which would not only provide consistency to the thousands of producers in the field, but also give some insight into the softer skills, the people skills and not base all success on technical skills and numbers.
Where is your business based?
My business is based outside of Dallas, Texas. We do provide our services nationally and internationally and have a team of 10.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
Honestly, I started my business with a business card and a thought. I resigned from my position and had no idea what I would do. I asked myself, if I was starting all over, what is it that I would want or need? It was a female mentor or coach. There weren’t any for me when I began and when I started to show signs of success, I became the company and country mentor and coach. It was time to turn those tables around. Once I had that idea, the very first thing I did was hire a coach…and yes she was female. It was the greatest investment I have ever made.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
The most effective way of raising awareness for my business is word of mouth. I ask for referrals, testimonials and reach into my network and let them know what I’m doing and where I can use their help and support. Having a business is not the time to be shy about asking for help.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge at first was that we were in the height of the recession, so dollars were tight. I had no clue that dollars were tight. This is what I heard and I either listened or not. It reminded me of starting out in Insurance when my manager told everyone that the two most difficult times to write business was in July-vacation month and between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Do I need to say what my two most productive and profitable times of the year were? It was the same with my business. We were in the height of the recession, so people weren’t spending money on bringing speakers in, so I did training. They weren’t doing training, so I did coaching. It didn’t matter what they didn’t do, I found what they did do and continued that way.
How do you stay focused?
I must be very strict with myself since I am a shiny object person. I have a strategic triangle that I use. A triangle has 3 sides and in each side is one of the 3 services that I offer-speaking, coaching and training. If it doesn’t fit in one of those sides, I can’t do it. If I want to do something else, I have to remove one of my services and add that. I have to remind myself that a triangle has 3 sides so there are only 3 services I can offer. Not only does this keep me focused, it also gives me the ability to say no…
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
I am focused on women in leadership, emerging leaders, men who champion them and redefining culture. We encourage diversity and have a diverse team. We not only walk the walk, we talk the talk. The entire team has been in business for decades, have experienced being overlooked for promotions for numerous reasons or have been or wanted to be a champion for women. We have the stories and the experience.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
I think that raising awareness and marketing are very similar and go hand in hand. We use social media platform to reach our networks and connect and reconnect. We are very active on social media so that our networks are ready to help promote what we are doing and planning. As I mentioned before, we ask for support. We all practice servant leadership and we give in all ways and always. That favor is returned most often without even having to ask.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
The first thing I would say is understand your why. Why are you planning to do whatever you are planning to do? Know your market and the problem you will solve. Remember that you can’t help everyone…even if you want to. And most importantly, find a mentor or a coach. One of my guests on my radio show said she always has two mentors-a man and a woman so that she gets different perspectives. I love that and recommend that as well.
What’s your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
One of my favorite books is Power Questions by Andrew Sobel because it confirms the fact that being named the “Question Queen” makes great business sense. He gives you reasons why you should and shouldn’t ask certain questions and identifies a question that, when I ask it, the response is “No one has ever asked me that question before” and the conversation continues on an entirely different level. I find that asking questions shows you are interested in, not interesting to your prospect, client, friend, partner, spouse etc.
What’s your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
I love LinkedIn. It’s not simply a social media platform. It gives you access to thousands of “your people” whether by company, title, position or group. You can connect and reconnect and introduce your connections to each other. Since many of my market are LinkedIn users, it makes it that much easier.
Who is your business role model?
Why? Brene´ Brown.
She is brilliant and speaks to you, not at you. She has a wealth of knowledge and is a speaker that I see, watch, listen to and read about. She is also a celebrity crush of mine and I know I will meet her in person sooner than later.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
For the next 6 months, we are creating a movement through our foundation Walking on the Glass Floor foundation. Its stated purpose is: To support and empower women by sourcing, publishing, and distributing educational materials for women in leadership and organizations that support women in leadership.
Women are desperately needed and wanted at higher levels in companies, non-profit organizations, governmental institutions, new businesses, and on boards. More than simply a nice idea, our foundation is a collaboration of women and men supporting women regardless of age, culture, or industry. This IS going to be a movement.
Through the Walking on the Glass Floor Foundation, we also are developing partnerships with companies and organizations committed to women in leadership. The goal is to sell 1 million books and donate a portion of the proceeds back to charities, foundations, social causes and scholarships and create events for women in underserved communities. It’s very exciting for everyone involved.
How can our readers connect with you?