Tuesday, September 2, 2008


The Republican Convention started on Monday in St. Paul but was scaled back to only an afternoon event due to Hurricane Gustav. Our WIPP event was from 2-4 p.m. and the Convention was 2-5 p.m. so we did not make any Convention activities.

The delegates I spoke to were very understanding of the changes that were made. Unless everyone is on message point, no one at all stated disappointment or dismay. It was so obvious that this is what needed to be done. Some of the delegates even said it gave them some breathing room to enjoy other things throughout the Twin Cities and some of the other Convention meetings—such as the WIPP event.

The evening parties were not cancelled. We went to AT&T/Blue Cross and Lifetime parties. The Beach Boys were the highlight at AT&T. At every event, there was information and immediate ways that people could donate to hurricane relief efforts. The AT&T and Blue Cross party had donation forms. The Red Cross had a table set up at the entry to the Lifetime Party.

AT&T and other wireless companies have ways to easily text a donation to the American Red Cross (and the donation appears on your cell phone bill). To help the victims of Hurricane Gustav, you can use your cell phone to donate $5. Just text the keyword “Give” (4483) to the address 2HELP (24357).

There was a huge sigh of relief by everyone during the day that the anticipated severe damage to New Orleans did not happen. This also helped the positive and upbeat atmosphere.

The Twin Cities are not as “twin” as we had imagined. Both downtowns and Convention Center areas have a lot of activities. But they are a $30 cab ride apart from each other so it takes specific planning, unless you have an unlimited budget, to determine what you want to do and the locations.

We did take a couple of hours to go to Civic Fest at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It was a terrific hall of historical, presidential and Minnesota displays. There were replicas of the White House and Air Force One and real presidential limousines. There were films and displays on presidential history. The Smithsonian Museum had moved part of their display of First Lady dresses here for the Convention.

There was a vendor area. One vendor “guessed wrong” and had McCain-Romney buttons! I bought two—these might be collector items. I was surprised at how many bi-partisan and non-partisan booths were there, which was an encouraging sign. I was also surprised at how nasty some of buttons and bumper stickers were against the Democrats and Democrat Presidential nominee Barack Obama. This really doesn’t seem necessary. One bumper sticker said “Republican Women Like Men.” What is that trying to imply?


The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE) and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) hosted a tea in AT&T’s meeting suite at Brit’s Pub in Minneapolis. The tea was to “celebrate our leaders who support U.S. competitiveness, innovation and entrepreneurship.” WIPP also presented its Economic Blueprint: The Women Business Owners Platform for Growth.

Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO of the SBE Council, and Barbara Kasoff, President and CEO of WIPP, both spoke. Opening remarks were given by Carly Fiorina, the RNC 2008 Victory Chairman and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

She said that women balance family budgets, grow businesses at twice the rate of men, and make the health care, education and consumer choices. Then consider the fact that small business creates two-thirds of all jobs and it is clear that women will decide this election.

She committed to get the Economic Blueprint directly to Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee for President.

She also got cheers about Sarah Palin’s nomination for Vice President. She sited Palin’s executive experience as head of a family, mayor and governor. In a private conversation I had with Fiorina before the program began, we talked about the media treatment of powerful women.

Fiorina was fired from Hewlett-Packard the same week that the major indictments came down for Enron and World Com. Yet her firing received 10 times the media coverage. I heard her state this in a keynote speech at a Women’s Leadership Exchange event and addressed that with her again. She said she was curious to see how the media would treat Palin. I said, “They took off after Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain.” She agreed that we needed to stand up for all women and said, “Sometimes principles are more important than partisanship.”

Marilyn Carlson Nelson, the former Chairman and CEO of Carlson, Inc., was the keynote speaker. She has a new book out on “The Power of Leadership.” She sited a study that showed that Middle School girls say they do not want to go into business because business is not aligned with their values. This obviously needs to change.

By the time Ann Sullivan who does government relations for WIPP spoke on the Blueprint, at least one-third of the audience had left. Good lesson that policy should come first on an agenda.

In a recent conversation with a woman who leads a non-profit health care association, she said she worked hours on a story with a Glamour magazine reporter. The key to her for this story was a call to action on pending legislation—for readers to contact their legislators to support the bill. She was extremely dismayed when Glamour left out mention of the legislation and the call to action.

Evidently the Glamour editors did not think their readers were interested in legislation. This type of perception can be reinforced by the fact that so much of the audience left before the Blueprint was presented at the SBE and WIPP event.

These are more examples of how we have to continue to work to get the word out on the vital importance of women and small business owners to LET THEIR VOICES BE HEARD.

And by the way, my friend who would not do the Lifetime segment at the State Fair, did it at the Lifetime party. She understood that she has to add her voice! Each small step and victory counts!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Hurricane Gustav is obviously overtaking the news, rightfully so. The Republicans have cut back on their events today (Monday) and the schedule will be determined day by day. WIPP is going ahead with our meeting today. I saw that Cindy McCain has arrived, although President Bush and Vice President Chaney, and several Governors from the Gulf Coast, have understandably cancelled.

Some of went to the Minnesota State Fair yesterday—an All-American Day. Lifetime TV had a booth there and wanted people to speak for 30 seconds about what they would do if they were President. It will be posted on U-Tube. I spoke about WIPP’s Economic Blueprint and Small Business, of course.

It was the end of a long day and we were exhausted, but I was still disappointed, and a bit dismayed, that my two woman friends would not do it. One is a small business owner.

We really need to have our voices heard—no matter what it takes. They were asking for only 30 seconds—not an intellectually perfect dissertation.

Again—write, speak—get whatever your message is out! Participate in SBTV.com, WIPP. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD.


The WIPP contingent flew out of Denver to Minneapolis. There were a lot of media on our flights (as most attendees go to one convention or the other, not both). We’ve got the weekend to catch up on our other work before we start up again. Of course, the media is full of news on how the impending hurricane will affect the convention, and Governor Sarah Palin’s announcement as Senator John McCain’s VP nominee.

We are getting a lot of questions about what we think of Palin’s nomination. WIPP does not endorse any candidate. We encourage women to run for political office, from community boards to federal elective office. In fact, a recent nationwide survey commissioned by WIPP told us that our members place a great deal of importance in electing more women to public office and feel that the country would be better governed if more women, and specifically more women business owners, in office.
However, WIPP’s sole mission is to educate women business owners on the economic issues before Congress that affect their business growth – and they, alone, will decide which candidate to support.
According to the survey, women small business owners are nearly unanimous in their intent to vote in the November election, and a majority feel that they have some degree of influence on the outcome of the election. Our members are almost evenly divided between the two candidates, and one in six are undecided. They are similarly divided over which candidate would be best for small business.
The economic picture is the top issue for small businesses today, followed by other pocket book concerns like taxes and gas prices. WIPP worked together with 30 small business organizations to develop its Economic Blueprint. WIPP and its partners are united on six economic areas that are essential to our economic growth: healthcare, procurement, taxes, access to capital, energy and telecommunications, and the Blueprint is our call to action to Congress. We call upon Congress to adopt the principles contained in the Blueprint, as they are essential for small business growth. It represents our action plan to remove the constraints that inhibit the success and growth of women enterprises. The Economic Blueprint was unveiled at both the Democratic and Republican conventions, and will be the primary focus of WIPP’s Annual Meeting on September 8-9 in Washington, DC.


It’s hard to even begin writing about the last day of the Democratic Convention. Presidential nominee Barack Obama (we can now drop “presumptive”) spoke to me and 84,999 others at the Invesco Stadium in Denver. That speech was well-covered so I won’t speak much more about it now.

There was five hours of programming before Obama spoke. Jennifer Hudson sang one of the most beautiful renditions of the Star Spangled Banner that I’ve ever heard (right there behind Marvin Gaye and Jeffrey Osborne). Vice President and Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore gave a rousing speech to the crowd.

It was a combination of a rock concert and another marathon of speeches. Sheryl Crow and Stevie Wonder played, and Michael McDonald, who was kept to only one song.

The other speeches were pretty much more of the same—generals, Republicans, other politicos—giving their support to Obama. A particularly touching moment was when Martin Luther King III spoke, on the anniversary of his father’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and said how proud he would be.

The Obama campaign asked the crowd to text to the DNC to show their support. No one around me could get any cell phone signal for the next hour—the request probably overloaded the service in the area and shut it down, or significantly slowed it down.

Eight “regular citizens” proceeded Obama’s speech. One of them was a small business owner. Obama’s speech also touched on small business. I felt small business was well represented, especially after my earlier experiences highlighted in the previous blog.

While Obama spoke, there were as many tears throughout the stadium as cheers. The Olympic comparison continues as the evening ended with a fantastic display of fireworks. (And because they ran out of food and drink at a lot of stands, as well as t-shirts, hats, etc).


I attended the Women’s Caucus meeting on Thursday morning. It was great to hear so many women speak who are in public office. The highlight of the morning was Michelle Obama’s speech.

Only one speaker mentioned women as a voting bloc—and small business ownership wasn’t mentioned at all. The Ohio representative who mentioned women as a voting bloc talked about “women in mini-vans.”

But it hit me at this caucus that perhaps I was starting to “whine.” It’s not enough to sit and complain about small business not being mentioned enough. The big issue is—what are we going to do about it? Well, I’m doing part of it, by showing up at the conventions and being a part of the process. And even more importantly, being bi-partisan.

We need to write letters to our representatives, to newspapers and be involved in the dialogue. Our time will come if we keep up this work. Being involved in associations like WIPP is vital.

This was hit home even more in the afternoon when I attended the meeting for Obama’s campaign on small business. In my introduction I stated my disappointment that small business wasn’t mentioned more from the podium. Another gentleman disagreed with me and said that Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s speech on small business was great and that we should be pleased that we even got there. “There were many other issues that never got mentioned from the podium that people feel passionate about,” he said, “including HIV-AIDS.”

I realized he’s right. Our steps may be small, but we’re making them. And we have to keep up the hard work to be recognized as the voting block and economic engine that we are.