Kaira Rouda

Real You and Real Living - Chief Entrepreneurial Officer/ President
  •      Just last month, my family packed up and headed West, a move we're calling an "adventure", although my youngest son says he's tired of that phrase. We've rented a house at the beach for a year - leaving a life-long life for most of us in Columbus, Ohio. Were we all nervous as we drove across the country wagon-train style, Oreo the mutt included? An adventure at the beach

        Sure. Is it still different, strange, exciting, beautiful, and surreal? Yep.

         Before I left for the "adventure" one of my best friends gave me an anagram she created when her family moved to South America for a year. I realize Southern California isn't a foreign country - but when you've arrived from the heartland, some things are very different. So, whether you're facing change in your business, or in your life in general, perhaps these FACTS can help you, too!

     F for flexibility, both mentally and emotionally, to go where the culture takes you

     A for adventurous - take chances. Try new foods, new ways  of doing things [...]

  • Colored Pencils

    Think of your public relations or advertising agency as an extension of your team. The firm needs to fit in with your brand/culture and understand where your brand is going. When it comes to selecting the right agency for you, it's good to be picky. 

    Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Try these tips to ensure you find a great partner for your business' growth.

    • Ask for recommendations. Talk to your friends, and find out what kinds of experiences they've had with different firms in town or across the country.
    • Check out each agency's past work and client list. Anyone in your space?
    • Have a brainstorming meeting with their team-the ones who will actually work on your account.
    • See what kinds of ideas they have. Are they fun, innovative? Do they get your brand?
    • Learn how their processes and communication work. Will you be talking to them once a week? Will you receive documentation on what they're working on and when items are due? Will you have a dedicated account person?
    • Be [...]
  • Real You: Hire Like Apple

    August 26, 2009

    Have you ever met someone who had a spark? A stranger or acquaintance you instantly connected with and thought, that person is going places? Or maybe she was a great salesperson who went above and beyond to make your visit complete. You know, the kind of person that makes you want to visit again and again and tell your friends about the outstanding experience. 

    Recruit those people! They're special. They're driven. They're unique, and they might just make the perfect addition to your team. You could begin the conversation by asking how they enjoy doing x. Or maybe you say, "You are a fantastic salesperson. Have you ever thought about the X industry?" 

    One of my favorite brands, Apple, approaches these rising stars with "enticement" cards that display their logo with these words: "You're amazing. We should talk." The back goes on to tell the salesperson that their service was exceptional, and an associate would love to talk to them about their career. (See the card and read the [...]

  • It's tough out there. The economy is forcing layoffs, and businesses aren't hiring. More people than ever are out of work. But what about the people who are still employed? Are they grateful? Happy even? It turns out, more than half aren't. According to an Adecco North America survey, 54 percent of employed Americans say they will look for a new job once the recession ends. Among 18 to 29 year olds, the number jumps to 71 percent. Almost 3/4ths of the under 30 crowd will leap at the chance to leave you once the recovery begins. 

    This is a problem. It's a passion problem. If you're the leader of a team with these folks working for you, how are you going to rev up the passion? How will you build a culture that makes your team want to be there when times get better? And times will get better.

    If you are one of the disenchanted, hanging on paycheck to paycheck because it's better than joining the ranks of the unemployed, have you considered the entrepreneurial route? You could star [...]

  • What is independence? To me, it's entrepreneurship. It's the ability to do what I love, when I want, with whom I want. It's the new American dream. Women everywhere are making it happen, and you can, too!

    Here are my top five reasons you should take the leap.

    1. Independence. I love this quote from an anonymous high school student: "Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't." I couldn't have said it better.

    2. Creative Reign. This is your chance to express your brand. To connect. To reach out. To give your customers just what they need, wrapped in a package that's uniquely you.

    3. Passion. Create your own fireworks by doing what you love. Pursing your passions makes your heart happy. I promise!

    4. Satisfaction. Wake up every day knowing you've built something special. Something that has you stamped all over it. Something you're proud of. Something you'll leave behind.

    5. Me [...]

  • As I was reading my daily marketing news, I ran across a study that found most online purchasers bought because of a personal recommendation from a friend/relative (34%), followed by spouse/partner (25%), then a blogger (5%) and a chat room (5%).

    Truly, this is no surprise to me. Personal, one-on-one connections are gems. These are the people you trust and depend on. If Oprah tweeted, "Acai is amazing", but my friend Jane said, "I tried it and it's not worth the price," I'd go with Jane. Sorry, Oprah.

    If you're out there trying to make a splash in cyberspace, get the movers and shakers talking online and off. And talk to women! Women, your most valuable consumers, are twice as likely as men to recommend a product/service to a friend.

    Start with a core group of "sneezers", as Seth Godin calls them. These are influential people who are sure to tell their friends when they're into something new. Then keep the momentum going. Ask those people to write online reviews or blog about [...]

  • We're all smart, but what kind of smart may be vastly different. I love the book 7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences by Thomas Armstrong. His theory of multiple intelligences transformed my thinking about what it means to be smart-because in our culture, the traditional way we view smart is very limited. And limiting. Our society values logical and verbal smarts while often overlooking all the other amazing attributes that make each of us truly gifted.

    So, you wonder, what exactly are the types of smart?

    • Word Smart - expressing verbal intelligence
    • Picture Smart - thinking with your mind's eye
    • Music Smart - Making the most of your melodic mind
    • Body Smart - Using your kinesthetic intelligence
    • Logic Smart - Calculating your mathematical and scientific abilities
    • People Smart - Connecting with your social sense
    • Self Smart - Developing your intrapersonal intellect

    Oh, and he added two more in the revise [...]

  • I love radio interviews, but only if I'm prepared. Here are a few things I learned while on Real You Incorporated's  radio tour.

    • Do your homework, and get to know the station and its personalities. Learn their style, tone and audience. Are they jokesters, serious, down-to-earth? Listen to a few broadcasts. Most have a listen online feature.
    • Know what you'll be asked ahead of time. If you're not provided with questions, send a few to the producer. Also include your background info-bio, product, Web address-to help educate the DJs and let them tell the audience about how great your product/service is.
    • Ask for a copy of the interview before the broadcast begins. Some stations won't record it unless you ask. Use the interview on your site for promotion or a demo reel down the road if you're trying to book other interviews.
    • Go into the interview knowing the key points you want to cover. This is about you and your product/service. So make sure you convey the rig [...]
  • By nature, women are nurturers-the ones always helping others. While it's admirable that we are always trying to be there for others, between work and family, our lives can get chaotic. In striving to be SuperMom, we often forget how and when to say no. Then, being overcommitted with no time for ourselves, we're left feeling frazzled, burnt-out, despondent and not much good to anyone. 

    Fortunately, there are a couple things we can do. First, learn to set limitations for yourself. Instead of saying yes to everything, define the specific tasks that inspire you. Commit your time and talents to the tasks and organizations that make your heart sing. By doing so, your actions will be in sync with your heart, and that translates into a happier you. 

    Also, develop a support system of family, friends and co-workers who can help you. Surround yourself with these individuals and establish them as a network of real people in your life. Don't try to do it all. Instead, let others help you.  [...]

  • Did you know interruptions consume 28 percent of an average workday? It's true. And interruptions can be even more time-stealing if you're working from home and not setting limits. Case in point: the other day I was working from home. That's typically a great place to work. But, one of my kids was sick. She slept most of the time, but still needed checking, food and comfort. Then, I answered the home phone, instead of letting the answering machine grab it. A mom looking for help with a fundraiser next weekend. And finally, my oldest arrived home with his friends.

    And what time does that leave for the things on my list? None, if I allow that to happen. But I can't. I've made a commitment to my business, to me and my team. If you're looking for a job or starting a business, this is vitally important. No matter what comes up, you need to remember that if you don't manage through the interruptions and still accomplish your tasks for today, you'll feel more stressed and less availabl [...]

  • With all of the bad new and budget cuts, it's just plain stressful out there. That got me thinking of tips I've heard and used to create a little peace and relaxation in the middle of the day.

    If you're stressed and in a bad mood, you project it through everything you do. Personally, my jaws clench, and I become short with people. And that's no fun, for me or them. I'm not as effective as a leader, a mother or a friend. And while a little stress is good for performance, a lot of stress throws you and your nervous system out of whack, leading to nasty physical consequences as well as leaving you vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

    So, it's time for a break! Here are my five favorite tips.

    1. Have a personal jam session. Get out the headphones and listen your favorite up-beat song. Nothing gets me moving like Tina Turner.

    2. Get out of the office, or the house. Change the scenery! Take a 15-minute walk and get some fresh air. You will be more productive if you give your brain a rest. [...]

  • Businesses often go through growing pains. Sometimes good; sometimes bad. And right now, many companies are facing the pressures of having to downsize. However, there are some companies that are prospering and need to hire more employees. 

    To ensure that you hire the best and most well-fitting employees, my advice is to create a great culture-one that is inviting and represents your company's outlook. Potential employees will use your culture as a guide for gaining insight on your company. And, if you misrepresent your company's culture, you may end up wasting time interviewing candidates that are not a good fit for your company. 

    To ensure your culture is truly representative of your company's brand,  first take a quick inventory of your surroundings. How would you define the culture you've created up to this point? Is it stiff or fun? Casual or crazy? Formal or informal? Do these qualities really represent your company? Although these things may seem small and relatively in [...]

  • Women continually struggle with work-life balance. There are many women who believe there is this set, generic and ideal form of balance. However, that is just not the case. Balance differs for everyone. What works for your co-worker may not work for you. And what works for you may not work for your neighbor. Everyone is different and has a different job and your work-life balance should reflect that. Also, many women believe that their personal and business life should be completely different. But instead hear this: Your business is your personal life.

    By that I mean if you develop your business around your personal brand essence, then the real you will rise to the surface. You’re a package. Your values, personality—even your passions—they all come together to create a personal brand that defines you. Now take it one step further and incorporate that brand into your business.

    There are steps for accomplishing this goal, and I talk about them in great detail in my book, but th [...]

  • So, you’ve scored your first interview with a reporter. Woohoo! I know that feeling. It’s exhilarating the first minute; the next is filled with panic. Don’t worry. It’s time to get serious and start preparing.

    • Do your homework. Check out the reporter. What beat do they cover? What’s their style? What companies have they covered in your industry?
    • Nail down the key messages you want to get across. Put together your talking points. What are your three main points and supporting facts?
    • Consider all questions you may be asked. What’s the worst-case scenario question? Make sure to do a mock interview with a teammate to help you get comfortable.
    • Stand up during the interview. It sounds odd, and people walking by might chuckle, but it helps you get focused. You’re less likely to go off on a tangent in this power stance.
    • Nix distractions. Shut down your computer and turn off your phone. The less distractions, the easier it is to deliver a clear, conc [...]

  • As a mother of four and full-time business woman, I understand the pressures moms face. Unfortunately, many women have accepted that stress has become part of their daily lives and are finding it harder and harder to relax.

    Prolonged and increased levels of stress not only affect our home lives, they also affect our health. Our bodies are well adapted to dealing with short-term stress, but prolonged stress can cause serious health problems. Your stress levels can affect your nervous, respiratory, reproductive and immune systems.

    To help reduce your stress and make life more enjoyable for everyone in your home, I recommend laughter. We all can benefit from a healthy daily dose. Research shows that laughter reduces the level of stress hormones, stimulates the immune system and helps you connect with others. What a perk!

    Best of all, if you have kids, they should keep you laughing on a daily basis. Kids are masters at this, as they haven’t yet been infected with adulthood. My advice is [...]

  • I was recently at a company meeting and realized only the department heads took center stage. They covered a lot of great info, but it got boring. Face it: People just stop listening after so many PowerPoint slides. It would've been so much nicer to see some new faces. All of their team members were in the back, and only one leader gave a shout-out to her team.

    Whether you're having a sales rally or a client meeting, make sure to include your team. They work hard for you, so share the spotlight. It will break up the monotony of the formal presentation and introduce your audience to other key players who make your business go round while building camaraderie.

    With employees, it's the little things that count. The small gesture of inviting them to the stage or saying “thank you for all you do” shows you care and value them.

    In a recent study of leadership traits, leaders were asked what they thought employees expected from them. They responded with the ability to: prioritize, strategi [...]

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