Women Progress, But Still Seek Change

Daily News/Andrew J. Breig

Daily News/Andrew J. Breig

By Don Wade – This post originally appeared on memphisdailynews.com.

Amy Howell understands the assumptions. Co-author a book with the title “Women in High Gear” and it is easy, she says, to imagine a book that is “anti-male.”

Attendees of The Daily News’ Women & Business seminar network after the Thursday, Feb. 27, event. The seminar and panel highlighted the present and future of women in business.

But as Howell delivered the keynote address at The Daily News Publishing Co.’s Women & Business Seminar, she made clear – as did others – that a woman succeeding in business is not about defeating men.

“I’m not a male-basher,” Howell said at the Thursday, Feb. 27, seminar. “I love men. I work with men. A lot of my clients are men.”

Howell is CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies. And she dreams of the day when there are more women CEOs out there. At the Fortune 500 level, only 4 percent of CEOs are women.

“We’ve got to change that,” she said.

After her speech, Howell and her fellow panelists – Robbin Hutton, a senior attorney with Jackson Lewis PC; Leslie Johnson, assistant director of Hutchison Leads at Hutchison School; and Linda Lauer, managing director at CBIZ Memphis – took questions from the audience.

Hutton said the legal field has changed greatly, noting that in the 1970s, it was only about 5 percent female. Now, she said, it is 33 percent female, and almost 50 percent of law school graduates are women. Numbers like that are encouraging at Hutchison.

“We focus on instilling confidence in the girls,” Johnson said.

There also was much discussion about the importance of steering young women into STEM fields – referring to science, technology, engineering and math. It’s in those fields, Howell said, where women’s pay is about 90 percent of men’s pay. Progress is also being made in the legal profession.

“We’re catching up,” Hutton said.

“I’m not a male-basher. I love men. I work with men. A lot of my clients are men.”

–Amy Howell
Co-author, “Women in High Gear”

One audience member asked the panel about a woman one day being president.

“I certainly think our country would be a lot better off if it was run by a woman,” Howell said, generating the loudest applause of the day from the female-majority audience. “Men aren’t doing so well.”

Johnson added, “At Hutchison, we tell (the girls) they can do anything they want to do, be anything they want to be.”

Flex time is becoming more common and acceptable for both men and women as they look to balance career and family, but Hutton said women who take time off from their careers are responsible for catching up with the technology when they return.

Howell’s hope is that more companies will realize the value of flexible schedules, saying she knows some CEOs and managers still aren’t comfortable with it because they don’t want to give up “control” over employees.

“If you’re productive,” Howell said, “what does it matter if you work 8 to 5?”

Lauer said seminars such as this can only further the cause of equal opportunity in the workplace, adding, “The fact it’s being publicized will lead to change.”

The Daily News’ Health Care Reform seminar – the second in the six-part 2014 Seminar Series – will be held April 3.

Telling Her Own Story: Amy Howell blazes path as business owner, leader, author

By Don Wade – This post originally appeared on memphisdailynews.com.

Long before she was running her own business and co-writing a book, “Women in High Gear,” Amy Howell was a little girl in overdrive.

“I was a tomboy,” Howell, CEO of Memphis-based Howell Marketing Strategies, said of her earliest days in Austin, Texas. “I’d tell the neighborhood what we were going to do, whose house we were going to go to. They kind of looked to me to figure out what we were doing.”

In a way, those neighborhoods kids – especially the boys – were her first clients. Not that it was a straight shot from organizing the kids on the block to running a business. It wasn’t.

Howell will share her story – and the larger story of women attaining new heights in the working world – when she delivers the keynote address at the Women & Business Seminar Feb. 27 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The 2014 Seminar Series is presented by The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. The Women & Business seminar will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. To register, go to seminars.memphisdailynews.com. A wine-and-cheese reception will follow the event.

In the book, “Women in High Gear: A Guide for Entrepreneurs, On-Rampers, and Aspiring Executives,” Howell wrote: “High gear for me is the point where you attain confidence that comes from staying power in the business world. It’s that voice deep down that calls you to action and keeps you focused on your goals. Some people have tried to define me, but I refuse to allow others to define my journey.”

Her mother, of course, would be the exception to that rule.

“I was a lifeguard in high school and a swimming teacher,” Howell said. “My parents teased me about always having a clipboard and a whistle. And I say in the book, somebody had to be in charge, it might as well be me. My mom told me, ‘you don’t need to be following; you need to be leading.’”

That’s more easily accomplished in the neighborhood than in a corporate setting. Howell, 49, who came to Memphis to attend Rhodes College, knew early on she would have to meet men where they were to better understand them and the business world.

She says in the book, which she co-wrote with Anne Deeter Gallaher, who is CEO of her own marketing firm in Harrisburg, Pa., that she used the acceptable role of “note-taker” to sit in on board meetings and strategy sessions.

She also stretched herself.

“I learned to play golf,” Howell said. “I didn’t like it. But in the ’80s, that was the only way to meet men in influential positions and figure out what was going on in the business world. Even if I just drove the cart and passed out beer, I was meeting people.”

Frank Ricks, one of the founding principals of LRK Inc. architectural firm, employed a young Howell. Today, his firm is one of her longtime clients.

“She’s clearly an extrovert,” Ricks said. “She has a knack of making connections which, in my mind, is different than making introductions.”

Howell introduced Ricks and Dr. Scott Morris, CEO of the Church Health Center in Memphis.

“We hit it off,” Ricks said, and that connection has led to LRK doing some pro bono work for the Church Health Center.

Howell is simultaneously intuitive and bold, which might seem like a contradiction, but really isn’t. She is, after all, a CEO, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a sister and a friend.

“You have to wear different hats when you have different tasks in front of you,” she said.

Howell tells a story in the book of being in a meeting – 12 men and her. The meeting bogged down over minor details. It was late in the day. Her instincts told her to order coffee and cookies and so she did – without asking.

“The negotiations had come down to something so ridiculously small I felt like they were little boys arguing over about who got to ride in the front seat,” Howell wrote. “I wanted to yell, ‘I call shotgun!’ Instead, I fed them.”

And in a short while, all was resolved.

Danis Fuelling, CEO of Phoenix Unequaled Home Entertainment in Memphis, who is a client and a friend of Howell, said: “Amy just kind of puts it all out there. If you know her, you know.”

So it should come as no surprise that Howell and her co-author decided to self-publish their book, which is available through amazon.com and locally at The Stovall Collection and The Booksellers at Laurelwood.

“We didn’t want anybody telling us what to say and how to say it,” Howell said.

Or as she wrote in the book: “I have a saying in my firm: ‘Tell your own story or someone else will.’”

Sunday Radio Interview on WCCO Radio News & Views with Roshini Rajkumar

Sunday radio interview on WCCO Radio News & Views with Roshini Rajkumar.

Here the full interview here.

Anne Deeter Gallaher Interviewed on WCCO CBS Minnesota

Anne Deeter Gallaher Interviewed on WCCO CBS MinnesotaAnne Deeter Gallaher, co-author of Women in High Gear, talks about her book and the importance of social media for career advancement with WCCO TV CBS anchors Jason DeRusha and Jamie Yuccas. Anne was the keynote for the National Association of Women Business Owners Minnesota on September 24,

Click here for the full video interview. 

Anne Deeter Gallaher Interviewed by KARE 11 NBC Anchor Pat Evans

Anne Deeter Gallaher, co-author of Women in High Gear, is interviewed by KARE 11 NBC anchor Pat EvansAnne Deeter Gallaher, co-author of Women in High Gear, is interviewed by KARE 11 NBC anchor Pat Evans on September 23 on the importance of social media in advancing your career and gives insight into her keynote for the National Association of Women Business Owners Minnesota on September 24.

Check out the video interview here.