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  • 25-Feb-2014 11:23 AM | Steve Royal (Administrator)
    By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, RPCN Communication Committee member

    Many RPCN members provide consultation on product development and systems or organizational management. Bob Whipple is unusual in providing something more ethereal and esoteric - but equally valuable: thought leadership on trust.

    Whipple launched his consulting business, Leadergrow, Inc., and his Trust Ambassador brand in 2003. He has been speaking, teaching, writing and consulting on leadership and trust ever since, providing insights into the benefits and strategic advantages of creating and strengthening trust in the workplace. Based in Hilton, NY, he usually works with clients onsite - "with senior executives on their own home turf" - and does some coaching by phone.

    Here is a video interview with Bob Whipple:
    Bob Whipple

    His consulting business has given Whipple a "huge variety" of clients. "Right now, I'm working with one of the biggest companies in the area, as well as mid-sized and small businesses, the arts, nonprofits - and doing some individual coaching," he said. "I do a lot with colleges, manufacturing organizations, law firms, hospitals." They all have at least one thing in common - a desire to build trust among management, workers and/or customers.

    Whipple's business manager and partner is his wife Kay. "I'm the face of the company and the content person, based on my background," he said. "She's the brains of the business."
        
    Like many RPCN members, Whipple was an executive with Kodak before becoming a consultant; in his case, for 31 years. He went into consulting because "I didn't want to jump into another full-time job after I retired from Kodak in 2001," he recalled. "I kind of backed into consulting through teaching and writing, and always enjoyed working with groups. I felt I could help people and am glad that they will pay for me to do so."

    Whipple has benefited from many relationships in building his consulting business: "It's always people - people helping people" that are the most valuable. "The key thing [for success] is not to be confined to Rochester," he said. "Get known around the country."

    Whipple doesn't do any advertising to promote his business, although he did use that in the beginning. "Word of mouth, facilitated by my online presence, has been the most effective," he said. "One of my values is to give things away. I'm averaging about 10,000 hits a month from people coming into my LinkedIn groups, blog (www.thetrustambassador.com), corporate site (www.leadergrow.com) and other networks to see what I'm doing." That visibility adds to his credibility as well as brings in new clients. He also gets new business through client referrals and "a good chunk of business" through his involvement in associations such as the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) and Rochester Business Alliance (RBA).

    For Whipple, the RPCN has been "a wonderful group of professionals who help each other. Whenever I have questions, I can call on an RPCN member, or go to the Friday sessions for advice."

    Where Whipple sees aspiring consultants make their biggest mistakes is in "being too anxious for immediate results." It isn't enough to call oneself a consultant, hang out a shingle and make a few calls to drum up business, he said. "You have to be unique and provide high-quality work. You have to put in some time and effort to build up your business and national presence."

    In addition to his consulting business, Whipple is very involved with writing and publishing. He just wrapped up his fifth book, which will be published by ASTD. It is about "how to maintain trust when a company is going through great transitions, such as mergers." He is putting the finishing touches on his sixth book, with his wife as co-author. This one will be about "the link between trust and motivation" and will use a new publishing technology from the Wharton School of Business called "Layers," which includes video and images, and provides ways for readers to engage with the author and other readers after purchasing a book.

    As evidence of Whipple's belief in giving to and helping others, he is a member of about 14 professional organizations and 50 LinkedIn groups. He is most involved in Trust Across America: Trust Around the World and has been named one of its 100 Top Thought Leaders on Trustworthy Business. He is a member of the board of directors of the Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation; founding member of the Rochester Chapter of Conscientious Capitalism; and active in the National Speakers Association, National Human Resources Association, Society for Human Resource Management, RPCN and ASTD.

    Whipple's advice to colleagues fits nicely into his involvement with the RPCN and other organizations: "Don't be a hermit. Be out there as much as you can. Opportunities will only come to you if you're [visible and involved]." He isn't kidding -at one point, he was teaching 11 college courses at the same time, many in Syracuse. He urged colleagues to "get what you want, which isn't just money" - consulting can be the road to achieving fulfillment in one's work and a satisfying balance between work and family.

    It's also important to take control of a busy schedule, he said, especially when there's too much on your plate: "If I'm overloaded, I cut back on one area of activity, such as the teaching or networking. Things always seem to bounce back - as soon as I get out there again, business comes back in, so I get to regulate and manage my load."

    While visibility, networking and plain old hard work are vital to building up a consulting business, success comes down to one essential element, according to Whipple: "The amount of business you do is a direct function of the value you provide and the people who know and appreciate you."

    Ruth E. "I can write about anything!"® Thaler-Carter (www.writerruth.com) is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, desktop publisher and speaker.




  • 27-Jan-2014 6:16 PM | Steve Royal (Administrator)
    by Ruth Thaler-Carter, RPCN Communications Committee

    As an expert in the imaging arena and a native of Australia who grew up in England, Peter D. Burns combines a uniquely Rochester business focus with an international flair. His consulting business, Burns Digital Imaging LLC, helps clients develop and improve their imaging products or services.

    Burns came to Rochester in 1967 as a teenager when his father took an engineering job here. He attended Pittsford High School, and married a high-school classmate. He earned his PhD in imaging science at RIT and has stayed in Rochester because "my wife and I enjoy it here, and (like) the nearby Finger Lakes and Adirondacks regions," he said. "We have extended family in the area. I choose to - almost - never complain about the weather."

    Here is a video interview with Peter Burns:

    Peter Burns & Ruth Thaler-Carter
    Burns worked for Xerox, Kodak and Carestream Health before going into consulting. "I have always been involved with the development and evaluation of imaging products and services," he said. He was able to launch his consulting business on a firm basis after being laid off at Carestream two years ago because "I had been doing consulting for museums for about 10 years while working in-house," he said. He also had worked in environments similar to a consulting business. "With applied science and engineering, experienced people often lead small teams and contribute as individual," he explained. "This is similar to the type of consulting I currently do."

    He decided to form an LLC in November 2011. "It's worked out well," he said. "I'm pretty happy."

    A glance at the company website shows the Latin phrase Esse quam videri as a motto: "To be, rather than to seem (to be)" - appropriate for a business in digital imaging.

    Clients come from the cultural heritage community - national libraries, museums and archives - and the digital photography arena, including mobile (users of cellphone cameras). "The focus is on imaging performance evaluation, monitoring and software tools," he said. "We help with ways to set up, such as someone with several thousand images or documents, using standard practices so they are done in a consistent way. Any imaging of a library, archive or museum needs additional information - what camera images were from, when taken. That's my part of the process."

    Typical projects for Burns involve meta data and come from "two communities of customers: libraries and museums, which can be high-tech but are relatively easy to talk about, and digital photography for the electrical engineering crowd, which is very applied, such as testing new lenses."

    What Burns finds most interesting about his consulting clients and projects is working with historical material. He also can stay in touch with his roots through his work. "A few years ago, I visited Corpus Christi College in Cambridge (England), near where my family had spent vacations when I was a boy, for a project in collaboration with Stanford University in California," he recalled. "The project included scanning old material - illuminated manuscripts. We noticed several pictures of animals were evidently based on verbal descriptions from travelers - in one example, an elephant's feet looked more like a horse's hooves."

    His work also sometimes shows Burns new ways that digital is being used, such as a project of a recent client: "a large cosmetics company that is using color imaging to support clinical evaluation of their products."

    For most of Burns's consulting projects, "I usually verify results and supply a software tool that serves as a prototype for product developers." That tool is Matlab, which can do coding, imaging and programming. "It helps with consulting, but also provides a deliverable," he said. "Modern products won't be programmed in that language, but it's very useful for demonstrating results" - it helps him reassure clients who like to see and receive something tangible.

    Clients find Burns and his consulting services through connections he makes at conferences and when he does teaching or presentations; his LinkedIn presence; and referrals from clients and colleagues - "people I know or who know of me." He also has a website, BurnsDigitalImaging.com, which helps drive business to his consulting services.

    Although he calls himself a "natural introvert," Burns does what it takes to build up his business, including networking through RPCN. He has become a familiar face at RPCN events, handing out nametags and greeting participants. "For me, it is important to make personal connections in both the larger - national and international - imaging field and the local business communities," he said. "Running a small business means I need to know about things outside of my expertise and experience. I find RPCN members to be friendly and helpful." He also is active in the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T) and a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

    Burns tends to view his RPCN membership as a resource for business matters more than for the specifics of his technology niche or a direct source of new projects; it has been useful in providing referrals for services he has needed, such as business insurance. "I didn't identify myself as a small-business guy until after I started my formal consulting business," he said. "Often, I will get a tip or answers to my questions from RPCN discussions. I'm visible internationally, but it's good to have personal, local interaction. And there's too much information nowadays - it's helpful to listen to others."

    Ruth E. "I can write about anything!"® Thaler-Carter (www.writerruth.com) is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, desktop publisher and speaker.




  • 13-Dec-2013 11:35 AM | Steve Royal (Administrator)
    By Chris Swingle Farnum

    Not having to work 40 to 50 hours a week. The freedom to work from anywhere and with the type of clients she chooses.
    For Lynn Dessert of Brighton, who offers executive career coaching and life coaching, these are among the advantages to being self-employed for the past dozen years.

    "I'm more balanced, and I'm a nicer person," she says, compared to her full-time corporate roles. Also, "I'm in complete control of where I want to go."
    It took work to get to this point. Dessert has a bachelor's degree in social work and a master's in business administration, and is a Certified Compensation Professional. She spent 17 years working in human resources and line management for companies such as AlliedSignal (Honeywell International), Quaker Oats and the Kroger Company. Her corporate gypsy life moved her to Michigan twice, Ohio three times, New Jersey twice, and to stints in California, South Carolina and Chicago before landing in Rochester.

    As vice president of human resources for Bausch & Lomb in Rochester in 2001, she realized she wasn't really happy, but wasn't sure why. An assessment by an executive coach using the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) pointed out that, while Dessert has good left-brain skills with computers, numbers and details, she is drawn to risk-taking and entrepreneurship, which fall in the right-brain realm. "It explained to me what was missing," she says. The higher you rise in a corporation, the more restricted you are, she realized. "You take less risk because the consequences are greater."

    B&L was downsizing and wanted her to shift to a different role. Dessert had another job offer on the West Coast, and she was considering becoming a consultant. She'd only been in Rochester a year, but decided to stay here and create her own business. "I made the decision to say yes to myself," she recalls.

    She ran Dessert HR Solutions for five years and now is president and owner of Leadership Breakthrough, which helps people become the leaders of their careers and their lives. She finds it rewarding to help people move forward professionally and personally: "It's the best feeling in the world when somebody is in the zone."
    To get there herself, Dessert needed help. She joined the Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN) in 2001 for help with learning how to start a business and to build her network. The connections and the people have been great, she says, because it can be lonely to be in business by yourself. "They're very good sounding boards," she says of colleagues she's met through the group.

    Dessert got her first clients by visiting dozens of former colleagues across the country over a couple of months, showing them her business plan and asking whether her services were what they'd want. These days, most of her clients find her through her website, http://leadershipbreakthrough.com, which focuses on the solutions she provides, or via her Elephants at Work blog, http://www.elephantsatwork.com, which examines workplace issues. A computer geek at heart, she created her own sites with a careful eye to search engine optimization (SEO), choosing phrases in her titles and content that match common, relevant searches so her sites appear high among search results.

    She also gives talks, has written e-books and gets business through word of mouth. She finds that other executive coaches in the region don't blog, so doing so sets her apart. "When you're in business, you've got to be willing to try different things to see what works," Dessert says. If something doesn't seem to work, the problem could be the timing or the message rather than the strategy itself, she adds.

    Dessert has tried and abandoned some things, such as creating a website to provide ratings of personal assessment tools and a directory of career coaches and practitioners certified to give the assessments. That effort took too much time and work.

    Among her successes: offering an online appointment calendar for new and existing clients to schedule time with Dessert, which saves time and automatically sends reminders.

    Dessert continues to learn and grow in her field. She received certification as a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) coach, which required 125 hours of training and observation, and is working toward a professional coaching certificate from the International Coaching Federation. Her market research has found that companies seek that status when considering 1-to-1 coaches for executives.

    Best of all, the additional training has given her new insight into coaching. Unlike advising, teaching and consulting, true coaching puts the client in the driver's seat. Learning new techniques and being coached by others has fired her up for the next chapter of her life as a coach.

    Here is a video about why Lynn Dessert joined RPCN.

    Lynn Dessert


    Chris Swingle Farnum (chrisswingle.com) is a writer and editor in Rochester.


  • 25-Nov-2013 11:47 AM | Steve Royal (Administrator)

    By Chris Swingle Farnum

    Many people wish their parents' stories and wisdom could be captured and preserved for future generations. Todd Parker of Fairport has started a business to do just that.

    ROC Shots Video Services creates custom videos for families and small organizations to capture their legacies. A customer can choose a video autobiography with the option of adding family pictures, slides and video clips, or ROC Shots can create a video scrapbook from digital photos and scanned prints, with the option of narration. ROC Shots can repair and color-balance photos and add music and narration. The result: a DVD in a case with personalized artwork that can be used at a memorial service, given as a gift and treasured as a family keepsake.

    Some people could tackle such projects themselves, but many don't have the time or the technical ability.

    Parker launched the business in June 2013 and has no competitors locally that he knows of. He began with the benefit of a background in business development, but he still had a lot to learn as a new entrepreneur.

    He began his career as an engineer. After earning a mechanical engineering degree in 1980 at University of Rochester, Parker worked as an engineer in Massachusetts at the Honeywell aerospace defense firm, which became BAE Systems. The company creates thermal infrared products, such as equipment that allows military personnel to see in the dark, as well as less-expensive versions that help firefighters see through the smoke and find someone hiding in a closet.

    In 1987, "after I got my MBA, I joined the business development side - which is the dark side, according to the engineers," Parker says with a smile.
    His work included creating videos for trade shows and traveling the world to videotape product demonstrations. "I had a ball doing it," says Parker. To create videos, he'd write the scripts, compile a list of video shots needed, write the captions and sit with a video editor to finish the project.

    Parker married a Brighton school teacher whom he met in Boston and planned to settle with her in the Rochester area in 1996, but then he was asked to stay in the Boston area to lead the business development effort for a revolutionary technology at Lockheed Martin. He ended up commuting from Rochester to Boston each week for five years. In 2001, he became a product manager and then the engineering manager at CVI Melles Griot in Rochester, which creates lenses and complex optical systems for the semiconductor market. He worked there for 10 years, until new owners reorganized the senior staff in 2011.

    The transition became a chance for Parker to choose what he wanted to do next. He welcomed the idea of getting out of the office. The video idea came up when a friend's father said he was scared of having his life stories die with him. Parker created a video for him and says, "He was just taken to tears."

    Parker initially thought his customers would be senior citizens, but he has found many of them reticent. He is now focused on their children - mostly women ages 40 to 55 - who want to sit down and talk to their parents on camera, but can't or won't do it on their own. 
     
    To learn from and meet other entrepreneurs, Parker attended networking meetings of organizations such as the August Group and New Horizons, where he heard about the Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN) and SCORE. SCORE mentors provided him with third-party feedback on his business plan. One of them was reduced to tears, wishing he'd been able to create a legacy video of his own mom before she died.

    Parker joined RPCN in early 2012 and has picked up useful tips at the group's business forums and technical forums, such as the pros and cons of incorporating or forming a limited liability company, getting business insurance, deciding between information systems such as Google documents and Dropbox, and code compatibility issues between Mac and PC computers.

    "RPCN has helped me fill in a lot of the blanks - how to create a business, how to manage a business and the day-to-day decisions," says Parker. "The questions other people ask are as valuable to me as the questions I come up with." He tries to frame his questions broadly so the answers help others as well, rather than being specific only to his business.

    Through RPCN, he learned of a helpful attorney - who advised him to form an LLC - and a great small-business accountant, who said it's fine to track income and expenses in Excel rather than buying a more-expensive software program.

    Parker recently began supporting the organization by volunteering to film promotional videos featuring upcoming RPCN presenters. Members and the public can see the promo videos at the RPCN website (rochesterconsultants.org), in the monthly e-newsletter and on YouTube.com. That work, in turn, could help Parker's business. "I'm meeting people who are likely in my target market. It can't hurt to have Tracey Aiello (a November presenter) know what I'm trying to do with my little company."

    Parker suggests that a valuable next step for RPCN could be to offer smaller focus groups to talk more in-depth about certain topics, such as marketing. Members could share what works for them and get ideas from colleagues. Such a group would ideally include people with marketing expertise, he adds.
    "RPCN has been a great way to bounce my ideas off of others and fill in the blanks," says Parker. "I really appreciate that."

    Here is a video in which Todd describes his business and how RPCN helped him.

    Todd Parker's Member Story

     

    Chris Swingle Farnum is a freelance writer in Rochester.

  • 25-Oct-2013 2:06 PM | Steve Royal (Administrator)
    By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

    Janice K. Hanson chose to leave a full-time job in search of a better work/life balance. Launching JK Hanson Wordcraft has enabled her to take on volunteer roles that she enjoys, in addition to her communications work.

    Hanson, a member of the RPCN Communication Committee who designs the monthly email newsletter and projects such as the promotional flyer and program for the first TrendTalk event, started her consulting business in January 2012 after looking into the process in detail. "I had done some research, and I had a one-on-one with SCORE," she recalled. "The very next day, I went to the county clerk's office for my DBA and shortly thereafter set up a business bank account."

    Here is a video interview with Hanson:

    Janice Hanson 

    Hanson moved to Rochester from Vermont in 2002, when her husband accepted a job with Kodak. She went to a few RPCN meetings then as part of networking to find a full-time job. Building on her marketing experience at an arts center in Burlington, she found a job as assistant director of marketing, a title later changed to manager of marketing and electronic communications, with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO). In that role, she handled the program book, e-mail newsletters and the website, among other projects. With a business name picked out and logo already designed, she left the RPO in November 2011 and took the next few months to start her consulting business.

    The primary focus of Hanson's consulting business is proofreading and copyediting. "I've done work for ad agencies - mostly proofreading marketing materials, usually fully designed pieces," she said. "I also look at their messaging, to make material complete and pinpoint what's missing." She still does work for the RPO, editing its program book and managing the production schedule on a freelance basis.

    She also does some writing; she periodically posts on her blog to give prospective clients an idea of how she writes, and writes a weekly blog on folk music on the Democrat and Chronicle website.

    Hanson finds clients and projects primarily through "lots of networking," she said - the RPCN and groups such as the Rochester Ad Federation, Rochester Women's Network, and the Rochester chapters of the Public Relations Society of America and American Marketing Association. Connections through her church also have led to projects. One reason Hanson makes networking a major focus of her marketing efforts is that "working from my home office, I need a reason to get out and see people," she said.

    While she sometimes does consider going back to a full-time job, especially when freelancing with a company exposes her to interesting people and workplaces that seem appealing, Hanson is enjoying consulting. "One reason for freelancing," she said, "is that I felt a little constrained by titles. I also didn't want to deal with the office politics."

    To grow her business, Hanson plans to do more with websites. She is proud of managing a website redesign for the RPO that won two awards from the Rochester Business Journal, and has done some work with firms to proofread websites, check links and do quality control.

    That is one of several areas where the RPCN has been helpful to Hanson and her consulting business. "I knew I had to have a website when I started my business," she said. "You just need a place to send people so they can learn something about what you do. I went to an RPCN tech forum and asked people how they created their sites. I got people's business cards and looked at their sites, many of which were in WordPress." Inspired by the template of one RPCN member's site, Hanson invested in a custom template and taught herself enough about WordPress to create her site. She got involved with the RPCN Communication Committee to build her portfolio, demonstrate her skills and give something back to the organization.

    Having colleagues to consult with through the RPCN has been an invaluable aspect of membership, she said.

    Hanson's success at balancing work with a fulfilling personal life involves volunteering with the Golden Link Folk Singing Society, serving as its concert chair and running the monthly music series. She got involved with the group because it's something she enjoys as a musician, and it's also a good fit with her career: "All the work I've done in marketing has been in the performing arts, but I hadn't done anything before this on the artistic or programming side."

    For Hanson, being a freelancer or consultant is not just a matter of succeeding in business. "It means my work/life balance is good," she said. "It lets me do volunteer things and feel as if I'm contributing to society."

    RPCN Communication Committee member Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and proofreader. She can be reached at www.writerruth.com.



  • 20-Sep-2013 4:41 PM | Steve Royal (Administrator)
    by Ruth Thaler-Carter

    RPCN members may recognize long-time member Sandy Zohari's name because of her database management business, but she also has a jewelry business. She applies much of what she's learned from RPCN to both enterprises - one right-brain, one left-brain - with a shared focus on design. "When I do a database, I do design," Zohari says. "It has to look good and be easy for people to use. The elements have to fit together as an entity."

    Zohari also applies her tech skills to her jewelry business. That may not be a consulting service, but "RPCN has been helpful regardless," she says. The RPCN social media conference and a recent presentation on Pinterest were especially useful for marketing her jewelry.

    Here is a video interview with Zohari:
    Sandy Zohari

    Zohari was living in Waterloo, NY, and working on databases for Excellus in Rochester - a draining commute, even though she could work at home one day a week. As a contracted consultant, she was familiar with the consulting concept. She took the leap to starting AzoTek Database Solutions in 2006, after a friend she saw at a family wedding asked what she did and said, "We need you!"

    "I fixed a database for her, her boss contacted me and I started the business with them (as my first client)," Zohari says. "I just had that light bulb go off - I realized there must be many businesses that needed such help."

    A home-based consulting business seemed ideal. She initially worked on it while still employed, but gave notice in March of 2007 to focus on Azotek full-time.

    She came up with the business name by "looking at all the names with 'technology' in them, and they were all taken. I took the 'zo' from my name, 'tek' for tech and 'a' for the beginning of the alphabet."

    Azotek uses Microsoft Access to "create custom-designed database applications for clients who can't find pre-packaged, generic software with the functionality they need to support the unique requirements of their businesses," she says. "Many of my clients were using Microsoft Word and/or Excel to keep track of their data, but these methods didn't allow them to combine all the different data sources to perform functions or provide meaningful analysis." She works directly with clients and their staff to "analyze needs and recommend functionality that increases productivity, streamlines processes, and saves them both time and money." She also provides training for clients who prefer to do the work themselves or want to run their own ad-hoc queries and reports.

    The jewelry business, Sage-Thyme Jewelry and Design, evolved later. "I was interested in design, and jewelry was kind of an accident. I don't do fine jewelry - I'm not a jeweler," Zohari recalls. "I took a course in Rochester on jewelry wrapping and people started asking me for pieces. I started doing it as a business in 2009 and it just grew and grew." Because "I was also interested in the healing arts and had taken a metaphysics course," she incorporates healing properties of gemstones into her jewelry. The name comes from Sage-Thyme Haven, the farm her partner owns and where they live. "It's a play on herbs and wisdom," she says.

    Along with her RPCN presence, Zohari gets customers for Azotek through LinkedIn, networking events and AdHub, a resource for creative professionals in upstate New York. "I don't do any cold-calling," she says. "Mostly people find me online, primarily through AdHub. I'm doing a project now for a client and, when we met, I saw the client had printed out my AdHub profile, not anything from my own site."

    Were she starting a consulting business now, Zohari wouldn't do much differently. She found a lot of good advice at a county micro-business center, but it's no longer functioning, so she would use different resources. "I would use more RPCN services," she says. "I found RPCN through networking and joined shortly after March 2007. It's the only membership I've kept because it's the one that gave me the best value." In fact, she met her first Rochester-area client at an RPCN meeting.

    Zohari advises colleagues to:
      "Be professional in all that you do, and do everything that entails, such as having a domain name and an e-mail address based on that domain name. You don't even need a website as long as you have a domain name and profiles at AdHub, LinkedIn, RPCN, etc."
    • "Do your homework first before you start - network, go to events and workshops. There's a lot to learn!"
    • "Let people know you're starting a business. You can even ask discussion lists for advice about a business name."
    • "Always have business cards with you!"
    • "Go to job fairs even if you aren't looking for a full-time job. You'll meet important people there who might become clients."
    Zohari's success with two kinds of businesses proves, she says, that "all work benefits from the creative process. Those who work in business can always benefit from originality and thinking outside the box, while many artists who try to market their work have trouble because they aren't knowledgeable about business. Those with dual interests have the best of both worlds."

    RPCN member Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and proofreader. She can be reached at Ruth@writerruth.com.

  • 19-Aug-2013 1:47 PM | Steve Royal (Administrator)
    by Chris Swingle

    Barbara Moore found herself with the right skills at the right time to create a successful computer training and troubleshooting business in 1996.

    Trained as a librarian specializing in information technology, she had been in charge of automating 30 public libraries for Monroe County Library Services in the 1980s. Then, into the 1990s, she worked as assistant director of libraries for automation at the University of Rochester, where she was a key player in developing the university's first website. At that time, the Internet was becoming easier to use, and more people wanted to learn how. The library trained faculty and staff.

    "I realized then there would be a good demand, and I realized how much I enjoyed training," says Moore. Here is a video of Barb describing how RPCN has helped her.



    A community course helped her develop a business plan for offering computer help and classes. Other women who had started their own businesses encouraged her. One mentor challenged her: "What are you afraid of?" Moore feared she wouldn't make enough money and wouldn't like her new work, which could lead to having to find a new job that she might not like as much as her UR position. Her mentor reassured Moore that she could probably find an even better job, if necessary.

    Moore had been a women's rights activist since 1978, always encouraging other women to take risks, push themselves professionally and be role models. She decided she needed to follow her own advice, and she started NetResults.

    Nearly 17 years later, Moore still loves the freedom of working for herself - including the opportunity for casual attire. "I didn't realize I didn't like dressing up," she says. She enjoys helping people get comfortable with social-media websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, or software such as Publisher and Excel. She incorporates humor, putting clients at ease so the technology is less threatening.

    In 2004, Moore attended an inspiring conference offered by the Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN). She still remembers a great workshop on effective PowerPoint presentations, which recommended telling a story and using memorable images rather than bulleted lists of points. "And I teach that to this day," says Moore.

    She joined the group and has been a regular at the monthly technical forums, where members and visitors can ask technical questions and get answers from the group. "I don't know anywhere else where you can have an hour-and-a-half with so many experts in the room," she points out. She provides answers and sometimes asks questions. When a client of hers wanted everything deleted from an old computer but had lost its power cord, Moore asked about and learned the potential ramifications of substituting a different cord.

    Just by listening, Moore gets ideas of what technical issues are on people's minds. That knowledge has prompted her to write a newspaper column on those topics and to highlight certain services on her website, such as teaching clients how to get found on LinkedIn.

    For a time, Moore moderated RPCN's evening social media forums, which have since been incorporated into the technical forums. She lined up workshop leaders for RPCN's social media conference in 2012 and has given several workshops for RPCN, such as on Pinterest and on advanced Excel skills. Currently, she serves on the Communication Committee.

    Moore says of RPCN: "I think it's an excellent resource for people who are starting a consulting business. And, as you mature in your business, it's an excellent way to give back by helping people who are starting."
  • 23-Jul-2013 3:10 PM | Steve Royal (Administrator)
    By Chris Swingle

    Stefani Tadio grew up in a family of people who create art - a mother who sews and crochets, a father who does woodworking, and a sister who knits. "My family says it's in our DNA," says Tadio, who has done quilting, pottery, needlepoint, cross-stitching and rubber stamping.

    But she's the only one who sells her art. "I loved it so much I thought, 'I wonder if I can make money doing what I love,' " says Tadio, who lives in Perinton.

    Here is a video interview with Stefani Tadio:



    She started her business, Pine Tree Designs, in 2004 with rubber stamp art. Then she saw a book of embroidery on paper and was entranced. She switched her focus to hand-stitching original designs on paper with needle and shiny thread, selling her work at craft shows, arts festivals and 11 shops from Brockport to Ithaca. Originally, she used a craft punch and then a push pin to poke holes, but then she learned of die-cut machines. She got one that she can program using math and angles to create the round, symmetrical designs she envisions. Her work has gotten more complex and intricate.



    Tadio recently began selling patterns and is teaching her first stitched-paper class on August 3 at a quilt shop in Syracuse. While previously she feared that those steps would lead to more competition, she has realized that people who love her unusual creations may enjoy making some simpler designs as gifts - but aren't likely to launch businesses. Now she believes that teaching classes could build a customer base of people who will buy her patterns.

    She is particularly proud of Rochester Artisans, a network she created in 2009 because she kept getting inquiries through her website from artists seeking information. They saw her listings of the craft shows where she would be selling her work and wanted contact information for show organizers. She shared that kind of information through a Yahoo group, which evolved into a website, rochesterartisans.com, which also provides information on tools for running a business, where to find studio space, links to local artists' websites and more.

    "I see it as a hub for artful things in Rochester," says Tadio. Customers can see what shows are happening. Stores can find handmade products by local artisans, including jewelry, home décor items, candles and edibles. Gallery owners can find artists. And artists can see how other artists use their websites, Facebook pages and more.

    More than 500 people have joined Rochester Artisans, including artists, store owners and show organizers. So far, the information and publicity have been free. Since Tadio left her day job doing office work, she's devoting more time to the group and plans to transition it to a fee-based association.

    Part-time, she's been running the Fairport Pharmacy gift shop, which features local products. Doing so builds on her connection to many area artists. She's also helped run craft shows. Her new business plan is to use her experience and connections to create new craft shows for organizations like churches that want to hold such events as fundraisers but lack the expertise to do so successfully.

    In 2012, Tadio attended Rochester Professional Consultant Network's social media conference and loved the information and how well-run the event was. Even though she is a heavy user of social media, she still learned new things about Twitter and about making videos for a blog. She began attending some RPCN Friday morning talks on topics such as blogging, Pinterest and Google analytics. She recently joined the group because, she says, she discovered it's made up of many people she can learn from.

    Chris Swingle, chrisswingle.com, is a freelance writer and chairs RPCN's Communication Committee.

  • 27-Jun-2013 8:32 AM | Steve Royal (Administrator)
    By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, www.writerruth.com

    A native of Haiti who has become such a confirmed Rochesterian that he now prefers local weather to tropical climes, Michel "Mike" Frantz Molaire of Penfield, owner of Molaire Consulting LLC, is a dedicated RPCN member with a well-conceived consulting business based on a long-term career at Kodak.

    Molaire's primary consulting business is "basically technical," he says. "I help clients develop new materials and put them into formulations. They're often developing new products. I help them plan to fit into their timeline and budget. I provide advice and sometimes help their staff implement the project."Here is a video interview with Mike where he explains his relationship with RPCN.




    His consulting firm helps clients develop materials, coatings, processes and formulations for high-tech applications, including polymer coating development, nano materials, pigment dispersions and dip coat processes. According to his company website, "We can generate new materials for lab experiments, pilot development and ultimately production, working with our partners. We conceive, provide, formulate and develop materials for high-technology applications. We are currently working with international and domestic clients on formulation improvement and materials reverse engineering projects."

    That may seem like a lot to offer, but Molaire brings a substantial level of skill, training and experience to his consulting business. He absorbed much of that background as a chemist in materials and formulation research and development at Kodak for 36 years, where his job was to invent things - and he did just that. "I have more than 50 U.S. and 120 international patents," he says. Kodak helped him enhance his education while working; he earned his BS and MA at the University of Rochester and also was in the Executive Development Program. "I was using what I was learning as I was learning," he said. In November 2012, he was recognized by the Museum of African-American History as one of 100 "Inspiring Minds: African-Americans in Science and Technology."

    Molaire is originally from Haiti and joined his mother and younger brother in the U.S. at 21 as a college student. He always knew he wanted to be a chemist and attended a school in New York City from which Kodak used to hire, but almost missed the opportunity to work there. "I moved right after graduation," he recalled, "and it took them three months to find me." He accepted a job in Rochester thinking that "I would get experience and then go back to New York City - and here I am, still in Rochester!"

    Molaire launched his consulting business about a year ago. "Officially, I'm a retiree - I was eligible (to retire), but was actually downsized," he said. "I didn't see it coming, because I was on a hot project and thought it would continue for another two years or so." Ironically, he and his wife, a chemical technician, were laid off from Kodak within 10 minutes of each other on the same day, but she was ready to retire, while he preferred to keep working.

    Molaire's reaction to leaving Kodak was typical of many RPCN members. "As soon as it happened, my primary thing was to find a new job," he said. Also like many RPCN colleagues, Molaire's lengthy history of employment worked against him in a job hunt; prospective employers were reluctant to pay what he was worth. For that reason, "I also looked for consulting work - it gives you freedom; you can go anywhere," he said. "I had always thought I might do that, and aimed at whichever came first."

    The first client for Molaire's consulting business was a company in South Korea, proof that a consultant "can do the work without leaving home or moving."

    One way Molaire promotes his business is to focus on his inventive streak by using his patents and publications to demonstrate what he can do. Although he might add employees to his business in the future, Molaire is currently a one-person shop. "That means I can be lean and keep costs down." He connects with people whose expertise complements his own skillset as needed, through resources such as RPCN, LinkedIn, and contacts he has developed over his years in the field and membership in other professional organizations, such as the American Chemical Society, Society of Imaging Science & Technology, Association of Consulting Chemists & Chemical Engineers Inc., August Group and Digital Rochester. He has served as president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers and as a member of the Kids on Track Committee of the United Way of Greater Rochester.

    Molaire prepared for consulting by reading. "Whenever I get into anything, what I do first is find the best book on the subject," he said. "Typically, I buy my books because I mark them up - it helps the information register in my mind and find details when I go back to them." He looked into the Labor Department's Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP), which was how he learned about RPCN. "I started going to every Friday meeting," he said. "I also went to every SCORE meeting. It all helps."

    He formed an LLC and established a policy of requesting 25% down before starting a new project (especially from overseas clients), after finding that contracts are not quite enforceable outside the U.S. if a company does not have a U.S. base or assets.

    All that research helped Molaire realize that consulting can be a feast-or-famine experience, so he also indulges a lifelong interest in photography (houseKALLfotography). "I've been into photography since age 15 - I would take photos at school events, make booklets or proofs, and sell them to fellow students," he said. "I was also a wedding photographer while in school in New York City. I always meant to start a photography business when I left Kodak. It's another source of income - I use it to fill in when I'm not busy with consulting."

    RPCN has made important contributions to Molaire's consulting business. He has learned a lot about technical and general business matters from the group's meetings, conferences and other events. Among other practical details, he learned about the Pinterest technology from an RPCN presentation and promptly applied it to his website, using it to share illustrations from his patent documentation to better promote his business. (See http://pinterest.com/molaireconsult/). "They are the best way to show people what I've done and can do for them now," he said. "I can cite them because they're public information."

    "Learning what other people are going through and hearing answers to questions that I would never have thought of asking has been invaluable," Molaire said of RPCN sessions. "You may think something is your question, but it relates to all of us. By asking something, you aren't only helping yourself, you're helping everyone, so don't be shy about asking questions."

    In return for the benefits he has experienced, Molaire now serves as program chair and board member, which helps both RPCN and his own networking efforts. He would like to see more RPCN members link to each other's websites and business pages and publicize each other's events, to help make each other more visible and gain more traffic to their online presences. "I'm trying to get members to do more toward supporting each other," he said.

    Mike Molaire is also an author and publisher. He published the African-American Who's Who, Greater Rochester Area and the African-American Who Was First, Greater Rochester Area in 1998. His poetry book, Shadow of Dreams, was published in 1995. He is currently updating the African-American Who's Who

    RPCN member Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and proofreader. She can be reached at Ruth@writerruth.com.
  • 29-May-2013 10:49 AM | Steve Royal (Administrator)
    by Chris Swingle Farnum

    A lot of nonprofits exist to do good but don't know how much effect their efforts and their resources are having, says Brian Kane. His business, Results for Good, helps nonprofit agencies maximize their results for clients and for the community by delivering evidence-based outcomes.

    In other words, he helps organizations figure out what their goals are and how to measure their progress.

    Kane, of Canadice, Ontario County, has brought that same approach to Rochester Professional Consultants Network, where he completes a one-year term as president at the end of June.

    He and the board have been evaluating how to measure the group's success and make sure its efforts are aligned toward the goals.

    "What is RPCN about, really? What are we really trying to do?" Kane asks. "We're about helping people develop successful consulting businesses."

    The group has members from diverse fields, and some definitions of success are hard to measure. But whether you're meeting your financial goals is a result that's quantifiable and meaningful for everyone. Members won't be asked to share financial figures, Kane says, just the fact of whether they set such goals, whether they achieve them, and whether being part of RPCN helped them reach their goals. Such goals could change from year to year.

    To better help members be successful, Kane and other RPCN volunteers are working on revamping the professional development program, including a significant financial investment in programming.

    Kane co-chaired the program committee for a year and then was vice president of RPCN for one year. He helped organize a one-day social media conference in June 2012. As he reflects on his term as president, he's proud of multiple things.

    "We've really stepped up the level of involvement of members," says Kane - who recruited this writer to volunteer with him on RPCN's Communication Committee. Kane created that committee as well as a Marketing Committee to look closely at RPCN's message and better get the word out.

    He was involved in revamping this newsletter several months ago to highlight member stories. Both the newsletter and website now frequently feature videos that let you hear directly from presenters and members.

    The changes are all part of a strategic planning process that is fundamentally changing the organization, says Kane. RPCN was founded in 1990 and like any organization, he points out, must adapt to remain relevant.

    Here is a video interview with Brian Kane.



    Chris Swingle is a freelance writer.


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