The Successful Woman Entrepreneurs Give Back article series focuses on women who have mastered the art of creating and maintaining a business that sustains and enriches every aspect of their lives. The fourth pillar of Arianna Huffington's Third Metric - Giving - figures prominently in their lives and is supported by their multi-million dollar businesses. In bringing you their stories, my intent is to provide you with information and inspiration for modeling your business to achieve your personal version of lifestyle, legacy, and leading by example.
Sandra Yancey, Founder and CEO of eWomenNetwork
Sandra Yancey is the powerhouse behind eWomenNetwork (eWN), a multi-million dollar enterprise in Dallas, Texas that connects women and their businesses throughout North America. eWomenNetwork is the largest women's business event company in the world, producing over 1,000 women's business events annually through 118 U.S. and Canadian chapters. The organization's philosophy is "give first, share always" and members are recruited with this culture in mind.
In addition to being an award-winning entrepreneur, former ABC radio show host, best selling author, movie producer, and international speaker, Sandra is a philanthropist who is dedicated to helping women achieve and succeed.
At a very young age, Sandra learned the value of giving. Though she grew up in a family that depended on public assistance and services provided by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, she learned from her mother that she should always give back - even if it was through an act as small as contributing a nickel to the collection plate in church on Sundays. She emphasizes the value of these small gifts, saying:
I think sometimes we step back and we hear "philanthropist" and we think that people have to be of significant wealth and donate significant dollars. But the truth of the matter is, giving takes many shapes. You can give a hand up, be a shoulder to lean on, clean up a mess, and spread good cheer. When it comes to money, those $1 donations multiplied by masses of people make a huge difference. The key is to do something. Even the smallest measure counts and makes a difference. . . so [philanthropy], it's not just for the wealthy. I think you feel wealthy when you give in any way.
Taking this lesson to heart, Sandra created the eWomenNetwork Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that is independent of eWomenNetwork, Inc. To date, the Foundation has awarded over 100 cash grants to non-profit organizations in support of women and children, as well as conference scholarships to 147 emerging female leaders of tomorrow. Sandra feels that its greatest legacy is that it has been "an activator for other philanthropists to get involved" in giving.
The Foundation focuses on supporting "backyard" nonprofits throughout North America - organizations that don't have a lot of national exposure or huge PR resources but that are making a difference in their local communities. It gives "small" donations such as $8,000 packages to such groups. eWN chapters also raise money to fund a multi-five figure donation for the Humanitarian of the Year Award, a special and prestigious award given to an organization that "really does something extraordinary to make a difference in the lives of those in need." The Foundation has donated as much as $35,000 for a Humanitarian of the Year project.
Leadership is a recurring theme in Sandra's life and her businesses, from the Excellence in Leadership award that she received from the Euro-American Women's Council in Athens, Greece to the scholarships that eWomenNetwork Foundation gives to burgeoning women leaders. Sandra believes that leadership is, first and foremost, an attitude. She says that because so many people are followers, there is an abundance of opportunity awaiting those who decide that they are ready and willing to lead. And while some may be born with innate leadership skills, she says she knows from personal experience that you can also learn these skills:
. . . I certainly don't have the profile of having the kind of access, the kind of role models and people in my life that I could learn from as a young girl, but as I grew older, I have been committed to always learning personally, learning from others, and being reflective.
Sandra lives her life with an attitude of abundance and gratitude as well. She says that self love is not selfish and that taking care of yourself is a part of making sure that you really are living your "life assignment":
I just don't think you can be available to the universe and expect it to toss you its next blessing if you don't have the energy, the stamina, and the strength to be able to reach out and grab it.
To care for her mind, body, and spirit, she keeps a gratitude journal, meditates, exercises (including her first sprint triathlon in 2014), and "eats healthy." She does this, not from a selfish perspective, but from a responsibility perspective - she says this is what she is responsible for in her life.
Sandra is a self-described "fun fanatic," and says that when she thinks of the "f" in fun, she thinks of friends and family. She loves spending time with her grown children - she sees her daughter every week and when she travels to Arizona on business, she makes time to see her son there. She also carves out time to see a girlfriend who lives on the West coast at least three times a year. She speaks glowingly of the 37 years of marriage that she shares with her husband, Kym, and is quite frank about the work that is required to maintain and nurture these relationships.
The next major goal that Sandra has set for herself and eWN is to become the leading content provider for women entrepreneurs - on multiple media. eWN launched an online radio network about six months ago and already has 15 radio show hosts around the world (including Australia) who are providing valuable free content for entrepreneurs. By 4Q15, the organization will have completed construction on an Internet television studio in the Dallas corporate office. Combined with its website and social media reach, these most recent forays into online content delivery will allow eWN to spread its philosophy of giving more widely and powerfully across the globe:
"Give first, share always."
"Lift as you climb."
"It takes teamwork to make the dream work."
These are our three tenants. They are the underlying principles of everything that we do.