This one's for ladies only

"For most of my life, I thought business was intimidating, not to mention boring. It was something for men, not for me."

Linda Hollander, Bags to Riches

I'll admit I'm a ladies' man.
Don't get me wrong.
At my age I'm nobody's heart throb. Maybe still my wife's. If I've been really sweet and told her how much she means to me.
But to others of the opposite sex I'm an over-the-hill guy.
You know. Gray. Bald. Over weight. Too many smile lines.
What I mean by saying I'm a ladies' man is that I appreciate female sales people. They're every bit as smart, skilled, aggressive, motivated and competitive as males. They also possess, with a few exceptions, something that many male sales people lack.
They show genuine empathy for their customers.
So this column is for women. I love you all.
You guys can butt out right now.

A female role model
I'm going to tell you about a potential role model. Her name is Linda Hollander.
She goes by the improbable nickname of "The Wealthy Bag Lady".
Linda Hollander started out painfully shy. She was the kid who always sat on the back row.
She was also short with frizzy hair. Not a winning combination, in her mind.
In 1988, she reached an all-time low. She was in debt over her head, frizzy hair and all.
She was living in a low-rent apartment because she couldn't afford to live anywhere else.
She worked for an overbearing boss who violated her personal space eight hours a day.
"On the highway of men," Linda says, "I was constantly getting off at the Jerk Exit."
Sound familiar?
Her best friend Sheryl Felice had told her she could be and do anything she wanted to.
She picked up the phone and called Sheryl. They cast caution to the wind. They combined their skills and talents and started a business — customized bags for businesses.

16 years later
That was 16 years ago. Today, Linda and her best friend operate a successful business. Linda has become a consultant to other small businesses. She is in demand as a speaker. She founded Women's Small Business Month and the Women's Small Business Expo, empowerment events to encourage women in business.
If Linda can do it, so can you.
As Sheryl told her, you can do anything you want — as long as you want it badly enough.
Linda Hollander has written a book for women in business, women just like you. She calls it "Bags to Riches". Which is her story. But it's much more than that. Linda has written a helpful how-to book on success in business and in life.
But I'm not a business owner, you might say. Well, it doesn't matter who signs your checks. You are in business. And if you don't own your accounts, your competitors will.
In her book, Linda spells out seven secrets for women to succeed. I'll go into four of them briefly but you will want to get a copy of her book and read about them in detail.

Success Secret #1. You've already got what it takes.
Capitalize on your feminine strengths. Some of the most talented business people can read and understand a P&L statement but they don't pay attention to their intuition. Use your famous female sixth sense. If you get a bad feeling about a prospect or a deal, heed that warning. Your first impression is usually right. Listen to your inner voice.

Success Secret #2. Business is a lifetime self-improvement course.
More women than men sign up for sales and businesses courses because women aren't afraid to ask directions. Practice lifetime learning. Don't become complacent or decide that you know it all. Find mentors. Attend seminars. Read books. Learn something new every day.

Success Secret #3. Measure your success differently than men.
For many men, success is money and power — who wins the most toys. For women, being able to express creativity, feel genuine job satisfaction and help others is more important. Linda says her worst decisions have been made when the demons of greed or fear took over.

Success Secret #4. Selling is nurturing.
Successful women in sales are not aggressive "never take no for an answer" types. They are nurturers. They want to know where it hurts. They help their customers. There's no greater euphoria than closing a sale. It's the ultimate high. The customers just voted with their checkbooks — and they voted for you. They did it because you genuinely showed you care. And you came up with the best solution or idea for them.

You can read about the rest of Linda Hollander's success secrets and much more in her book, Bags to Riches. It is filled with 231 pages of practical ideas and six pages of resources including a number of books that will enhance your selling skills and enrich your life. You can contact Linda at She encourages questions, comments, insights and your own story, too. You can call her toll free at 1-888-286-0602.
OK, you males who stuck with this to the end. Linda can teach you a thing or two as well. Listen up and read her book.

Jerry Bellune and his wife own and operate a newspaper publishing company in Lexington, S.C. His new book, "How to Peel a Green Banana: Seven Strategies of Advertising Super Stars", is available in CD and 3-ring binder formats. You can order the book by calling 803-957-5755 and subscribe to his FREE e-letter “Power Up for Success” at his web site

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