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July 14, 2006

The Modern Working Woman in Business, at Home

So here's the typical mom in America today: baby on knee, small business down the street, with rifle in Pakistan.

This week's column in Small Business Trends has highlights -- and I'm not talking hair -- of a typical mom. Yes, women have always been producers -- breeding babies and businesses since Eden, but this is something each generation has to discover for itself. See Women's Future in the Small Business Labor Force.

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Helen, second from left
with rifle "consulting" in Pakistan

"How do you it all?" Accomplished women with kids constantly get this question.

Helen Philbrook, married and mother of three, from Raleigh, NC, has the answer.

Your Business Blogger recently sat down with Helen and her husband David to learn the secret.

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She's a former Vice President of an environmental testing firm, and perhaps the world's first female "Smoke Stack Sniffer." She's run a number of start-ups.

But Helen says she's now "followed her passion to gardening." Her company Tiger Lily's is an award-winning firm that gives her what she needs most:

Flexibility.

She was well-prepared. Helen has an M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Science, studied Garden Design in London, and completed a series of international consulting assignments. In a male-dominated business. Where she learned:

Negotiation.

The greatest challenge women face in business is learning to negotiate.

But she also negotiates with her clients. Hard. She establishes upfront contracts with the explicit understanding that her family will come first.

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Helen, Vice President

She is an advocate of "sequencing" for women -- marriage, children, work. Helen says a woman can always have an "ambitious career." After the kids are in school. She knows she will anger feminists.

She has advice to young women starting out. Where the fear is that they will get behind the power curve. "Not so."

Helen says, "Your career is still waiting for you."

After your children.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

Full Disclosure: Helen is my sister.

No Speed Bumps has Women in Engineering.

Alas, a blog has Homeward Bound.

Basil's Blog has Breakfast.

Posted by Jack at July 14, 2006 06:17 AM

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