NAPW June Member Spotlight

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Meet NAPW members in Member Spotlight, a monthly column that lets members highlight their careers and businesses. This month, we feature ten accomplished women, so be sure to check out each of their profiles. VIP, Elite and Preferred Members: To be featured in an upcoming issue of the newsletter, contact us at featuredwomen@napw.com.

Adelina-Garabet_vip

Adelina B. Garabet

Company: Mad Science of Northeast NJ
Industry:
Education & Entertainment
Title: Owner
Location:
Fair Lawn, NJ


NAPW
: What is the best career advice you ever received?

Garabet: Never lose track of your dreams, and if you are in a profession that does not make your heart happy, change it while you can.

 

NAPW: What advice can you offer a growing business?

Garabet: Listen to your customers and to your employees. The most valuable advice comes from those representing your business and those who pay for your services. Keep up with the current time, if your methods are old-fashioned and outdated it might just be time for you to spring into the present. Do not forget to promote your business on a daily basis to anyone and everyone that crosses your path.

 

NAPW: How do you keep your ideas fresh?

Garabet: Social media plays a big part in making sure that we are all up to date. I encourage my employees to let their imagination go wild; sometimes they come up with the best ideas. I also make sure that we ask the children in our programs what they loved and what they would like to see more. Children come up with the most interesting concepts ever!

 

NAPW: What do you like to do on your free time?

Garabet: I love to volunteer my time to the homeless shelter. I also enjoy playing sports, have some fun with my friends, travel and go to musicals and all kinds of shows. I do not like to stay still, so I always look for something new and exciting to do.

 

NAPW: How do you get more clients/customers for your business?

Garabet: Our biggest driving force is ‘word of mouth.’ My instructors do a fantastic job in the field, which leads to new clients on a constant basis. We do a lot of media advertising and targeted mailers. We make sure to be part of different magazines, and also, we love to give back to the community through free shows and programs, which lead us to new clients as well.

 

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Janita-Branch

Janita Branch

Company: JB Planning and Creative Events
Industry:
Event Planning
Title: Event Planner
Location: El Paso, TX


NAPW
: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Branch: A fashion designer and I wanted to own my own store.

 

NAPW: How do you define success?

Branch: Success is when you are doing something that you love and are passionate about; it’s when you are making a difference in peoples’ lives, not just your own, while at the same time, you have found a balance between family and work.

 

NAPW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Branch: In five years, JB Planning will be an international company. We will have clients that we will be servicing in various parts of the world. I will be traveling and speaking to youths and adults about pursuing their goals of owning their own businesses, and helping them get their businesses off the ground.

 

NAPW: How do you relax?

Branch: I enjoy baking, reading and doing anything that requires me to be creative such as scrapbooking and coloring or having a nice dinner with close friends. However, what I enjoy most of all is spending time with my family. For me, it’s the best way to relax.

 

NAPW: What advice would you give to women planning to enter your field?

Branch: Do your research and have a plan! You have to know what services you want to offer and whom you want your clientele to be. Without a plan you will not get far and you will easily and quickly burn out. Your plan outlines things like how you will do business, whom you will do business with and how you will get business. I also suggest a mentor. One in your field is ideal, or find someone who is on a path where you are trying to go, a person who can give you sound advice and guidance.

 

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Roberta-Marongiu

Roberta Marongiu

Company: Weill Cornell Medical College
Industry:
Healthcare Doctor,
Researcher in Neuroscience and Medical Genetics
Title: Instructor in Neuroscience
Location: New York, NY

 

NAPW: What do you want members to know about you?

Marongiu: I am a Neuroscientist and work as an Instructor in Weill Cornell Medical College’s Neurosurgery Department at NY Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. I have been conducting research on Parkinson’s disease (PD) for over 10 years now. As much as I believe in the paramount importance of our quest for a cure, I always thought there was a gap to be filled between research and helping people with Parkinson’s better their quality of life in the present. In that spirit, I recently founded Rock Steady Boxing NY/LA, a nonprofit organization for Parkinson’s disease patients, with my husband Alex Montaldo, a stage and film actor, and Kathleen Glick, an entrepreneur and producer. Our mission is to help people with Parkinson’s maximize their physical, mental and emotional potential throughout their lives. We offer a boxing-based, noncontact training program specifically designed to improve their motor and nonmotor functions in a fun and supportive environment. The New York home to Rock Steady Boxing NY/LA is the world-famous Gleason’s Gym. We have partnered with the major Parkinson’s foundations.

 

NAPW: What can you do for your NAPW community?

Marongiu: I would like to invite all NAPW members who have Parkinson’s or have loved ones who are battling this disease to join our program and offer them full access to our referral center. We are working hard to get to the point where we can offer our services for free to all PD patients who may need them, but at the moment we can only grant a limited number of scholarships. I will make sure though that all NAPW members and their families get a discount on our monthly unlimited membership.

 

NAPW: How do you use social media to promote your career or business?

Marongiu: I use social media to keep my contacts up to date on events and fundraisers, and I try to reach out to the media as much as possible to raise awareness and give the PD community the opportunity to benefit from our classes.

 

NAPW: Describe your typical day.

Marongiu: Being a researcher is not your typical 9-to-5 job. More often than not, I work weekends and have a pretty erratic schedule. My entire work revolves around my experiments and their outcomes and so there really is no average workday. Aside from experiments, I am responsible for writing grants and mentoring grad students. On top of my ‘day job’ in the lab, I manage the nonprofit organization with my husband. That entails attending meetings with clinicians and institutions, communicating with press, keeping our supporters up to date on our events and fundraisers, and last, but not least, teaching the actual Rock Steady Boxing classes.

 

NAPW: Did you ever face a glass ceiling with this career choice, and what did you do about it?

Marongiu: As a woman I believe I faced a glass ceiling a few times throughout my career, but I personally chose not to make a big deal out of it. I find that the key to succeeding is to be positive and never lose sight of your goals, in both the short and long run. In my opinion, it’s much more productive to invest my time finding solutions to problems and developing new strategies and ideas than thinking about the obstacles that will stand in my way. The glass ceiling is undoubtedly there, but it’s not thick enough to stop me.

 

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Natalie-Abadir_vip

Natalie Abadir

Company: Endeavor America Loan Services
Industry:
Finance: Mortgages/Loans
Title:
Senior Vice President of Production
Location: Newport Beach, CA

 

NAPW: When using social networking, how do you stay true to your brand?

Abadir: Our company is a core value-driven organization. We promote our core purpose and core values in all our branding; it is who we are. For me, this makes it really easy to stay true to our brand as our brand is simply an extension of my own values, which align with our company. I feel that when a leader’s values align with the organization’s values, the essence of truth naturally exists. It really allows me to be me and this shines in all of my social networking.

 

NAPW: Has your career choice positively influenced other areas of your life?

Abadir: Yes, it has. My career has empowered me with the ability to provide for myself and my family. It has also enriched my life with deep rooted friendships. As a large focus of my career is to assist  individuals to reach their professional growth, the added benefit is that I get to be part of their personal growth as well. Many of my closest friends today are individuals I have either worked with in the past or continue to work with today.

 

NAPW: What advice would you give someone who is changing career paths?

Abadir: Assess your true strengths before making a career change. Are you a strong relator, communicator, analyzer, etc.? What you will find is that when using your strengths throughout your career, you will truly enjoy what you are doing and continuously excel and advance. Your career becomes one of your passions in life. When determining my career path, the first thing I had to accept was that my career is part of my life and it is a fundamental component of my existence. It is not the only component, however, it is a significant one. Once I accepted this fact, work transformed into a career path. It is not only a vehicle that drives me to attain my personal goals, it is one of my personal goals. My position requires me to grow and develop market spaces, which requires growing and developing people within these spaces. My biggest strength is that I am a relator. I love relating to people. Within my career I have found a niche for myself to do what I love to do and what I am best at doing, which is a perfect formula for success. My efforts control my destiny now. How can you not be successful when doing something you enjoy and are meant to do? Find a career path that challenges you while utilizing your strengths and you will be successful in your decision.

 

NAPW: How do you handle your workload during a personal crisis?

Abadir: In the past, I would dive into work to avoid dealing with my personal crisis. Hone in, so to speak.  The short-term results were that I completed several projects early, excelling at work and failing within my personal life. The long-term effect was failure at both. From years of experience, I learned to allow the two to become one by creating a mental pendulum that I am constantly balancing. In order to be successful within my career, it is necessary to be successful as a person. Balance. I did a reverse assessment. There are times when work is demanding with deadlines, goals, etc. At those times, I sacrifice some of my personal time with self, family and friends in order to complete these tasks. If I don’t, I am constantly thinking of work when engaging with friends and family, which is counterproductive. Instead, I allocate more time to work and make a note to dedicate more time to personal matters once the projects are completed in order to regain the balance of the pendulum. The same applies when I am facing a personal crisis. If I don’t take the time to sort through the matter and resolve the root problem it will bleed into my work performance, negatively impacting my ability to effectively focus. During the crisis, I allocate more time to the personal side of the pendulum. I do this by having a flex schedule, working shorter days, six days a week or by using a few of my vacation days to sort through the crisis. Even going so far as to reach out to team members, sharing with them that I am going through a personal crisis and will be delegating some tasks. With as much time as we spend at work, our peers become an extended family. You would be amazed by the support they will provide if you simply ask. Once the crisis is resolved I then dedicate the appropriate time to my career to compensate for the adjustments made for my crisis, thus balancing the pendulum. Life is about time allocation/management and understanding what requires your immediate attention in order to keep you balanced. If everything seems to be urgent, and I am quoting the President of my current organization, fly yourself 30,000 feet above the issues and look down. From that perspective it is much easier to figure out the macro initiative versus when you are knee deep in it dealing with the micro.

 

NAPW: Tell us about a time when a heavy workload has affected your personal relationships and/or physical and mental health.

Abadir: There was a period of time, during my tenure with a previous organization, that my workload required 65-to-70-hour work weeks in addition to travel time. All of my time focused on work. As the organization was in growth mode, the projects never seemed to end and I just kept plugging away at them. After about eight months of running full throttle, my body started telling me it was over exerted.  Severe anxiety, weight gain, insomnia and minor depression started to kick in. I was always so exhausted from working and not sleeping that there was zero motivation to do anything but try to rest in order to work some more. After months of these symptoms, the insomnia made the anxiety worse, which led to panic attacks; those aren’t fun. After a couple of attacks, the decision was made; it was time for a reality check. Time to see the doctor. The doc’s scrip: vacation, exercise, a well-balanced diet (I guess Red Bull and Red Vines aren’t balanced) and some therapy for coping with stress. The vacation was not feasible at the time so a compromise of reducing my work hours to 50 hours per week, regardless of the workload, satisfied that. It would be there waiting for me the next day. I made sure to get some fresh air for 30 minutes a day, every day, whether by taking a short walk around the building or taking my dog for longer walks in the morning and evening. Balanced diet? Well, let’s just say I made sure to get something green in me three times a day. Therapy for coping? That was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I learned so much about ME. Hearing me verbalize my stress to the therapist was like dropping a 50-pound weight off my shoulders. During that period of recovery, I learned to listen to my body when it was tired or overworked. Look for the signs that it was time to take a small weekend trip to unplug. The balancing of the pendulum became part of my being. Pushing myself to limits that broke my mind and body negatively impacted my performance within my career and my personal life. It took some time to learn how to listen to my mind and body — adjust to keep them both healthy. It is an acquired skill. There are even times today that I will find myself wide awake at 3am on a Saturday after working a 60-hour week unable to turn my brain off. That means it is time to take a small trip, even if it is just for a day. Shut it all down — phone, computer, electronic devices linking me to work related tasks, just unplug. It will all be there tomorrow. A trick I learned from my therapist when feeling overwhelmed is to take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are a strong, intelligent, calm, successful individual. Sounds a little cheesy, but try it a couple of times, it works. My humble advice to anyone who experiences any form of anxiety due to work load: (a) take a deep breath (b) assess the workload and figure out what needs to be done “right now,” what can be delegated and what can wait until your workload lightens up (c) please listen to your mind and body. If they are saying they are tired, they are. Take a break, or your body will force you to. As a result, you will be much more productive with a fresh, clear mind and a healthy body. Our careers start off fun and exhilarating; it is up to us to make sure we keep them that way by balancing our pendulum.

 

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Lori-Dann_vip

Lori Dann

Company: Moxie Lady, Inc.
Industry:
Digital Media, Online Publishing
Title: CEO
Location: Lake Forest, IL

 

NAPW: When using social networking, how do you stay true to your brand?

Dann: Our purpose is to empower women in all areas of their lives. We are here to provide information that is interesting, inspiring, useful and actionable – while building a community to help pave the way to help others reach further and achieve more.

 

NAPW: Has your career choice positively influenced other areas of your life?

DannI spent many years in the insurance business and mortgage banking in sales and management positions. I enjoyed the work when I was younger, but became more and more discontented and unsatisfied as time went on. My decision to start a digital media company and publish an e-magazine designed to empower women has been the most exciting career choice I have ever made. I love my work every day and really feel like I am making a difference.

 

NAPW: What advice would you give someone who is changing career paths?

Dann: Trust your gut and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You don’t have to know all the answers up front – the path will become clearer as you go.

 

NAPW: How do you handle your workload during a personal crisis?

Dann: I trust my team completely and know that I can depend on them to pick up the slack when needed.

 

NAPW: Tell us about a time when a heavy workload has affected your personal relationships and/or physical and mental health.

Dann: Historically, during times of extremely heavy workloads, I would become overwhelmed and paralyzed. Additionally, I had the misconception that I had to do everything myself or be seen as a failure. I’ve come to realize two things:  (1) I can continue to be productive if I concentrate on completing one task at a time and (2) asking for help is not a moral failing.

 

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Barbara-T.-Kasmiroski_vip

Barbara T. Kasmiroski

Company: 4K International, Inc.
Industry:
Retailing
Title: Owner
Location: Waco, TX

 

NAPW: When do you feel it’s a good time to quit a failing endeavor to start anew?

Kasmiroski: When you have exhausted all avenues of means to keep from failing, try something different.

 

NAPW: How do you maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity?

Kasmiroski: There is always HOPE. Just continue to find new things to do and associate with new people to mix and mingle. You never know when good things will turn up.

 

NAPW: Over the course of your career, do you feel anyone has purposely held you back? What did you do to maintain your career path?

Kasmiroski: No. People have always been helpful. For example, when I was working full time for a company and going to school to get my degree, the company officials let me work my schedule so that I could take the proper courses I needed. People I associate with are very positive. I eventually did get my degree, which helped me get better positions when the opportunities came along.

 

NAPW: Tell us about a woman in your business life who has influenced you most.

Kasmiroski: The woman who contributed to my business life was the personnel director of the company I worked for. She was very positive and gave me opportunities when they became available so that I started at the bottom and ended on a high.

 

NAPW: Did you have a mentor who guided you on your career path? Would you have had the success you have now without them?

Kasmiroski: Yes, I had a mentor and would not have had the success without her.

 

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Leslie-Laxer_vip

Leslie Laxer

Company: Up, Inc.
Industry:
Cosmetics/Beauty/Spa
Title:
President
Location: Los Angeles, CA

 

NAPW: What makes this company a good fit for you?

Laxer: This company was founded because I was looking for an anti-cellulite cream that worked in a reasonable amount of time and showed visible results, moisturized the skin, helped to tighten the skin and, with continued use, also helped prevent the future build-up of cellulite.

Over the years, I had tried so many creams and lotions and gels that promised results and cures but I only wound up with two things: a cabinet full of products that did not work and cellulite that didn’t go away.

This company is an extension of me. It is based on standards of excellence to which I hold myself accountable. It represents what can be done with a dream.

 

NAPW: What do you find most challenging about your job?

Laxer: This is a dual answer: trying to dispel the myth that anti-cellulite creams do not work and starting a company with only one product in the launch line. This requires a strong educational component in outreach as well as ensuring the product’s features and benefits are communicated clearly.

 

NAPW: What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Laxer: Just about everything! I love when I get feedback from users telling me how this cream has changed their perception of themselves. How they’ve gotten more confidence and self-esteem and don’t cringe when warm weather permits shorts and bathing suits. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue to help others change their body perceptions from negative to positive.

I also love meeting so many new people from all walks of life. Everyone has something of value to contribute.

 

NAPW: What is your proudest accomplishment?

Laxer: My proudest accomplishment, aside from my children and grandchildren, is being able to stay the course and produce an anti-cellulite cream that works. I was able to turn five years of research and development into a viable company with a wonderful product. This five-year journey in creating Firm Me Up Anti-Cellulite Crème is an extension of myself.

 

NAPW: How do you find balance in your life?

Laxer: Tricky answer. I begin each morning in my warehouse with a list of things that must be accomplished that day. I try very hard to get through most of them by prioritizing. Days that I’m in the field, either working or demonstrating, that’s all I do. When I started this company I realized that certain activities/plans would have to go by the wayside. My family was on board with that and is totally supportive. The longer I do this, the easier it becomes to delegate certain responsibilities so that I have some “me” time to spend as I wish.

 

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Alison-OBrien_vip

Alison O’Brien

Company: JWalking Designs
Industry:
Active Apparel for Women of All Shapes and Sizes
Title:
CEO/Co-Founder
Location: Union, NJ

 

NAPW: What techniques do you use to handle difficult employees?

O’Brien: In my role as CEO/Co-Founder of my small business, JWalking Designs, I am the only employee – and trust me when I say that I give myself a stern talking-to and straightening up quite often!

As a veteran network television documentary and long-form producer, I’ve had more than 15 years of experience in dealing with camera crews, assistants and colleagues. When dealing with someone difficult, first I try to better understand what the issue(s) may be that have led to the less-than-wonderful behavior being displayed; knowledge, I truly believe, is power. If greater understanding does not lead to greater positive change, I become very direct, and hopefully unemotional, in explaining what needs to be done and why, and the consequences of not complying. In the past, I’ve stopped working with people who didn’t toe the line, but I still feel that Teddy Roosevelt’s adage, “speak softly and carry a big stick,” is a great approach.

Some may say I am too nice, but one should never mistake “nice” for ineffective or weak; I am neither of those.

 

NAPW: What do you feel is your most important business skill?

O’Brien: I listen well and without judgment – that makes me successful as a television producer, where I need people to really talk to me, not at me. It also makes me successful in growing my business, JWalking Designs. As a rookie entrepreneur, in a field new to me, I feel like a sponge; soaking up any and all information. My interest in what’s being said is genuine and I think that builds trust.

 

NAPW: It’s been said that it’s not what you know, but who you know. Do you believe this is true? Does is relate to you?

O’Brien: In television, it certainly is true – who you know can get you in the door, but it is still what you know and how you work/are that gets you a seat at the table. Interviews for my most recent television jobs came from friends and former colleagues – the “who” – but getting called back for project after project is based on “how” I am and “what” I can deliver.

 

NAPW: What do you think every entrepreneur should know about business?

O’Brien: I think there should be a required class – for all majors – called “How to Survive and Thrive in the Workplace.” It would focus on personal relations and communications – two things I think are critical to learn in life – and skills you can take with you from workplace to workplace.

 

NAPW: How important is having a sense of humor to your daily business life?

O’Brien: I think laughter can really diffuse any tense situation. I laugh at myself quite often and by doing so, I think it makes me more human. Who wants to work for or with a person who can’t roll their eyes with a smile at something that’s been done?

 

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Susan-Matos-Cloke

Susan Matos-Cloke

Company: Advanced Hormone Solutions
Industry:
Healthcare
Title:
Physician
Location: Paramus, NJ


NAPW
: How do you reduce stress while experiencing continuous pressure?

Matos-Cloke:  I focus on getting the tasks done as efficiently as possible and remaining calm. I think of my family and how much they need me to work so they can fulfill their dreams. I am also very good at delegating responsibilities to my staff.

 

NAPW: Which online career tools or apps do you use most?

Matos-Cloke: LinkedIn.

 

NAPW: What are your biggest strengths/talents in your position?

Matos-Cloke: I am a great leader who is respected in the field of medicine; I am intelligent and well trained. I am also patient, organized and good to my staff and patients. I have also brought Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy by pellet insertion to the northeast, having gone to Arizona to train with the pioneer of this therapy to make it available to those patients whose treatment options for hormone imbalance were limited, unnatural and unsafe. I have taken many patients off their anti-depressants when their hormone levels are replenished and they are no longer “depressed.” They had a hormone imbalance. I am also working with Dr. Tutera from Arizona on studying the effects of Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement therapy by pellet insertion on patients with Parkinson’s. I have completed the NIH and FDA requirements to help with this study.

 

NAPW: What are some of your weaknesses? How do you plan to improve them?

Matos-Cloke: At times I am too nice to the staff, and I need to focus on what needs to get done and make them accountable for their duties.

 

NAPW: How do you maintain the networking relationships you’ve established?

Matos-Cloke: I attend health and wellness networking events. I set up a table with my staff for many functions and teach about Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, and visit physicians’ offices to discuss my therapy.

 

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Nicole-Vartanian

Nicole Vartanian

Company: Bridge Capital, LLC
Industry:
Hospitality
Title: Receiver
Location:
Albert Lea, MN


NAPW
: How do you prepare for an important work event (presentations, networking events, conferences, etc.)?

Vartanian: I gather all materials, do additional research and prepare notes.

 

NAPW: What are some of the ways you benefit from the women’s affinity group in your workplace.

Vartanian: Pre-conceived skills.

 

NAPW: Describe a time when you had to give an employee or co-worker difficult feedback. How did you approach it?

Vartanian: I was straight forward and highlighted their good deeds first.

 

NAPW: What are some creative techniques you use to increase your team’s productivity?

Vartanian:  We provide time off to employees with above-average performance.

 

NAPW: How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?

Vartanian: I hope to establish stability and discontinue moving around the country for employment purposes.

 

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