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.
For Lynn Bardowski, candles literally lit the way from a "successful" corporate career that was draining and unsatisfying to a multimillion-dollar revenue-generating direct sales entrepreneurial enterprise that fulfilled a personal dream.
Her transformation began back in the 80s, when she was earning today's equivalent of a six-figure income, had a BMW in the driveway of her huge home, and engaged a nanny to take care of her two daughters. Having her daughters was the trigger for her to begin asking herself hard questions about what she wanted her legacy to be and what example she wanted to set for her girls. From the time her second daughter was born, she was on a quest to figure out what kind of business she could launch so she could leave her corporate job and become a mompreneur. She came up with lots of crazy notions (she says that "craziness is required for entrepreneurship"), but none seemed to be quite right.
Then, she went to a PartyLite gathering (PartyLite is the Number 1 direct marketer of candles in the world) hosted by her sister-in-law - solely out of a sense of family obligation - and fell in love with the energy generated through the connections being made among the women who attended the party.
Lynn felt that one of her favorite quotes:
A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle.
was coming to life before her eyes in that room. Inspired by the possibilities, she built a million dollar PartyLite business in three years and went on to create a multi-million dollar empire.
This is the origin of the "Party" in her "Million Dollar Party Girl" brand, which emerged when Lynn published her best selling book entitled Success Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl. Ironically, she did not realize that this was such an amazing feat until she "got out of her bubble" and began networking with other women entrepreneurs.
Lynn's business activities have expanded from direct sales to encompass motivational speaking, hosting a radio show, and coaching and consulting. Part of what she does through these activities is to develop leaders. She defines leadership as "influence" and encourages her audiences and clients to see that they are influencing and leading all the time, even if they are doing so unknowingly. She says that you don't need a title to be a leader and that the "tribe" entrepreneurs build through social media and the types of clients they attract are a direct reflection of their leadership capabilities.
Being a leader in your own life is really where it starts. Especially as women, we are leaders in our households, we're leading our children . . . The easiest way to see what kind of influencer you are is to look behind you and see who's following.
Lynn is passionate about giving - whether it be through volunteering time or donating money. Her mother provided a powerful example of this through simple actions that made the lives of people in her community better. She instilled in Lynn the value of giving and showed her that when you give, you receive.
So when Lynn started her PartyLite business and committed to her business purpose in writing, she wrote down two simple words: "to serve."
She began by participating in activities at her children's school and as they got older, she expanded the scope of her service activities. Now that her daughters are grown and have left home, she has even more time to devote to causes that are important to her. She works with Big Brothers / Big Sisters because of the work they do with families in communities and she serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners, which provides the opportunity to mentor women who are just starting to build a business. She also leads a team of women who volunteer to serve meals at Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, New Jersey.
Lynn organizes client events and training boot camps with a charity focus as well and is always looking for people and organizations with whom to partner for this purpose.
Just as Lynn was influenced by her mother to embrace charitable activities, so her children have been influenced by her. When her oldest daughter was in high school, she and a group of friends got together and volunteered to do crafts at a local senior citizens' center. As adults, both of her daughters are active philanthropically.
Regarding life balance, Lynn says that she was in her 40s before she became "comfortable in her own skin." She encourages women to stop trying to fit into the molds that others have cast for them and to be true to themselves.
Be your best self.
She says that when you find your rhythm in life, you become unstoppable.
Lynn takes a three-mile walk around a lake every morning to start her day with clarity and focus. She takes lots of lessons from nature and uses them to help her deal with challenges she faces in daily life. She lights candles and does meditation in the morning, and also makes sure that she eats well (though she admits to cheating occasionally).
Despite her Party Girl brand, Lynn is an introvert. She likes to keeps things simple - her idea of fun is having a glass of wine and great conversation with friends. She loves to travel and has been fortunate enough to have seen much of the U. S., the Caribbean, and Europe with her beloved husband. This satisfies her desire to experience new things, new ideas, and new people (as opposed to gathering "stuff"). She is grateful that her New Jersey home is close to Manhattan because she loves going to the theater and checking out restaurants there with her husband and daughters.
Lynn's next big business project is the launch of Visionista Connection - a service that provides everything she wished she had so long ago when she was searching for a business idea that would allow her to leave her corporate position. On the first page of her book, she defines the word "Visionista" as "a woman that knows who she is, where she is going, and guides her tribe of leading ladies to the top."
Lynn has designed Visionista Connection to be a one-stop shop for information and support for women who are starting businesses and need inspiration to develop a vision that will propel them to success. One of her burning desires is to have each Visionista Connection participant lift another woman along with her as she proceeds along her journey to business growth:
Imagine what we can do in this world if we are constantly looking behind us to see who we can bring up with us . . . as we move up the ladder, let's bring other women with us too.