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By Susanne Romo
In Blog
Jan 20th, 2015

protect and insurance real estate concept  - home coveredI often hear people say California has no seasons. I disagree. We have Summer, Earthquake, sometimes Winter Storms, and Wildfire Season. Here are some steps your family can take to be prepared. It is not comprehensive, just a checklist to get you started.

Prepared Concept

  1. Reverse 911 Registration for your cell Phone. Fewer and fewer people are using land lines, but that is the only way the Office of Emergency Services (OES) can warn you to evacuate. Unless, that is, you register your cell phone. Logon to or and register every family member’s phone number.
  2. Have a Plan. Where do you meet in case of an emergency? Who do you need to contact? Have an emergency kit for each family member already prepared. Go to or to find checklists on what to have in the kit. Kits are also available for purchase at these websites as well. Also logon to for kid-friendly games and plans and parent homework to help put your plan together.
  3. Practice your Plan. Do your children know if you have dowels in the windowsills to protect against burglars? If they don’t, that could be the difference in being able to open a window and escape, or not. Do you have a ladder for second story bedrooms? Where will you meet outside if there is a fire? More firefighters are killed in the line of duty going into houses to rescue people who are already outside. Practice, practice, practice.
  4. Water, Water Everywhere, not a drop to drink. The rule of thumb is one gallon of water per person, per day. Don’t forget water for toileting and washing needs as well. Go to for more tips.
  5. When was the last time you changed the backup batteries on your smoke detector? An easy way to remember to do this is to change them at Daylight Savings time when you reset your clocks. Don’t forget your flashlight batteries as well.
  6. Documents and Photos. You can replace furniture and buildings. Photos are irretrievable. Take a home inventory. Keep a copy in a safe deposit box, on an off site internet storage site. Have a filing storage container ready to go or you a pre-setup one such as sells. Have a small fire safe for valuables. Take your photos and scan them onto an internet storage site. Store negatives in the same safe deposit box ad you put the home inventory and documents.
  7. Create and maintain Defensible Space. Trim tree limbs back off roofs and sides of house under the eaves. Clean out the rain gutters. Clean out the garage and take all chemicals and flammables to your city’s Public Works Center or drop them off at a local Household Waste event. Check at Clear space at least 100 feet from our house. Clear up clutter.
  8. Eliminate Hazards at your home. Install Fire screens on eaves and outside pipes. Have a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen. Never leave candles burning, and ALWAYS burn them in containers. Use soy candles instead of paraffin. Invest in a gas shut-off valve. Check fire alarms regularly. Secure your furniture with straps you can purchase at the local hardware store.
  9. Learn CPR and First Aid. Contact your local Red Cross at
  10. Remember your pets and those with special needs. For your pets, make sure you have food, water, leash, a crate, medicines, toy, blanker. Go to and for more ideas and lists. Also the National Council on Disability at to make sure you have the right supplies for the disabled and elderly.
  11. Visit your local fire station during their Open House.

The bottom line is the more you plan and prepare in advance, the easier it will be for you to act instead of react, in an emergency.


By Michelle Baker
In Entrepreneurial mindset
Jan 10th, 2015

It's January card with colorful backgroundIt’s the beginning of a new year, and everyone is talking about losing weight…admittedly, myself included. However, it dawns on me that what really needs to be lost is “wait”, that thing that makes us hesitate and loiter, and drift-off onto the sidelines somewhere.

To quote one of the great thinkers of the 20th Century, Theodor S. Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss:

“You can get so confused

that you’ll start in to race

down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…”

Impulsive decision-making aside, the beginning of a year marks a good time to assess, prioritize, and strategize any changes you would like to make this year. When it comes to professional changes, implement these steps to help facilitate a transition, and support you through your decision making process.


When it comes to your profession, first figure out what it is you want to do. Ask yourself:

  • Do you want to change your career?
  • Do you want to find a part-time job?
  • Do you want to a different position within your current company?
  • Do you want a different benefit/compensation/retirement plan?
  • Do you want a raise?


Due Diligence:

For most entrepreneurs, there is a process of due-diligence: reasonable steps taken by a person in order to satisfy a legal requirement, especially when buying or selling something.

But this term can be used to describe career research: the process of talking to people who are doing what it is you want to do or who can help you achieve your goal.

The value in this is learning from the experience of others. Certainly, it is essential to know how to wade through people’s subjective experiences, and understand not everyone has the same experience.

However, if your dream is to own a restaurant, and not only do you not know how to cook but you do not ever want to cook, you might be hard pressed to find an owner who has never had to prepare a dish in a pinch. Cooks get sick; servers don’t come to work; and you as the owner are the only one there when the customers walk in. There is nothing like talking to someone in the field to learn how to deal with those kinds of unplanned circumstances.

Career coach:

Not everyone has the finances to hire a personal career coach but there are many online services that provide this service as well.

Whether entering the job force for the first time or going from one profession to an entirely different one, having support identifying your strengths, weaknesses, interests and non-interests is essential when embarking upon a career or professional transition. As Ann marie Houghtailing says, “It is absolutely just as important knowing what you will not do as it is to know what you would like to do.”

For me, I’d rather work in the kitchen of a restaurant, cursing like a sailor than be out on the floor having to watch what I say. I do enough of that “monitoring” at home around my 9-year old son; I’d prefer a place where I could let my language fly in the heat of being in the weeds! (Yes, I have worked in the kitchen and out on the floor, and it was mutual; I was of better use in the kitchen. Turned out, I was a pretty good cook.)

Decades can pass with so many professionals doing what they believed they should do simply because of the degrees they invested in. However, what if the career you imagined at 23 as being a satisfying profession turns out not to be 15 or 20 years later?

Talk to people who have had to “re-invent” their professional life (either because of lay-offs, changing markets, health crises, or raising a family), and they have an acute understanding of the value of time, how quickly it passes, and knowing we only have one life to live.


Goals Are Dreams With a Deadline sign with a beach

Indeed, it is the start of a new year. Ask yourself what it is you really want to lose, and in turn, what it is you want to gain. For me, weight comes and goes but time? That is one thing that never comes back.

Begin now; identify what it is you would like to change, and make your action plan, and then start. Though it is not easy, it really is as simple that.

At Millionaire Girls’ Movement, we are committed to providing you, our readers, with actionable to steps to achieving your professional and financial goals. If you are looking for specific steps for a particular situation, please send your queries to or participate in our private Facebook group. We are committed to a professional community, and will do our best to find answers or provide stories that will serve your highest goals.

Let it begin!












By Michelle Baker
In Blog
Dec 31st, 2014

caffèI am not big on New Year’s resolutions. Not that I am against them, I just don’t make them. Don’t get me wrong; I do set goals. I set goals all throughout the year. But in terms of New Year’s rituals, I like to reflect on the past year, and think about what I have learned and how I can apply what I have learned in the coming year.

This year has been filled with accomplishments and setbacks alike. From the publication of my first work of fiction and receiving news of being cancer free to the managing of medical debt and financing two major house repairs, I was constantly reminded never to take my eye off the ball, and to make certain I still had my peripheral vision.

Isn’t that the case for all of us though? On any given day, every one of us is over our head at one point or another with life and all it delivers.

Friendship and Fortitude

What stands out for me most this year is the importance of friendship and fortitude. The many women I have interviewed for Millionaire Girls’ Movement, and the articles written by Ann marie Houghtailing and our other amazing contributors have served as a reminder that though each of us is alone living the particular details of our lives, we are all deeply connected by these experiences, and are here for each other to share what we have learned, to remind each other to be brave, and to support each other through the changes.

Without a doubt, your stories and camaraderie gave me the fortitude to move ahead when it seemed like everything was positioned to stop me. And I know many of you have been able to find the courage and identify the steps you have needed in order to live your life more on your terms.

Hello 2015 card with a beach backgroundI share this list as an invitation to you to write yours down and share them. Acknowledge the obstacles in your life, the achievements you reached despite them, and the goals that got shelved because of them.

It is indeed the end of a year. Write down your health, financial, professional, and personal goals. Take time to strategize and prioritize, and tonight, reflect and celebrate. Tomorrow is the start of a new year. Let’s make it one of action!

15 things I have learned just in time for 2015

  1. Always say “please” and “thank you”. No matter how old we are, it is always appreciated.
  2. Be grateful and appreciative for life and all its intricacies, and be mindful of the difference between gratitude and complacency.
  3. Change always happens whether we are an active catalyst, conscious participant or not. Growing with the changes, both planned and unplanned, is essential. Take time to reflect, learn, and apply what you have learned. Life is the best teacher and school there is.
  4. Ask questions. The only answer to every unasked question is the answer we imagine.
  5. Two song lyrics stand out for me this year: “I get by with a little help from my friends”, and…I forgot the other one.
  6. Humor is essential.
  7. Do not underestimate the power of these two words, “cancer free”, and their affect on the person who has heard them.
  8. Time, money, and energy are limited resources, some more renewable than others. Often their renewability is dependent upon each other.
  9. Love and confidence go hand in hand. Hate and arrogance appear to have a similar relationship.
  10. Friendships, money, jobs, homes, cars, clothes – all come and go. We don’t necessarily know how we would cope or who we would be until we are in the trenches of change. Have compassion for yourself and others; after all, many of us are in the trenches but it might not be apparent.
  11. Raising children is the hardest work there is. They are always watching us even when we are not watching them. They learn just as much from our absence as they do from our presence…and I am not sure which of these scares me most.
  12. Love, in all its forms, makes the world go round but so does the sun’s gravitational pull. Love just makes the experience deeply meaningful, hard, and delicious.
  13. We humans are more vulnerable AND more robust than we imagine ourselves to be. Know the difference between holding onto something and clinging for dear life.
  14. Always be ready to lend a hand, and make certain to secure your own oxygen mask first.
  15. Eat cake and ask for that raise: this is definitely not a dress rehearsal.


Happy new year, Everyone!

By Susanne Romo
In Blog
Dec 16th, 2014


Preparing for winter and possibly avoiding insurance claims as a result

In Southern California, we don’t get the traditional four seasons. Our winters are not harsh; our summers for the most part are not humid, nor overly hot. We don’t get bombarded by blizzards; we don’t have ‘hurricane or tornado season’. We don’t have to put out storm windows or check the snow blower to make sure it’s ready for the coming winter that a large part of the country must do. We are fortunate in many ways. So we may not have a regular schedule to clean rain gutters of leaves that have accumulated, trim trees back that are brushing against the roof, check the paint on our eaves, or check window screens for tears.

This can lead to complacency about home maintenance, which can lead to claims that are not paid out due to maintenance issues. Many times after a rainstorm I receive calls from clients whose roofs are leaking, and these claims are usually declined because the roof has not been maintained. Perhaps the roof is a little on the older side, perhaps a bit warped or has some broken tiles.

Questions to ask yourself

This is a good time of year to look at the house as if you were deciding whether or not to buy it. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does the roof need repair or to be replaced?
  2. How are the flashings holding up?
  3. Are the rain gutters securely fastened to the eaves?
  4. How about the garage: is it clean and easy to navigate, or are there piles of ‘stuff’ that hasn’t been looked at in years, and might benefit another family in need?
  5. Is there any deferred maintenance or debris that needs to be removed?
  6. Is the landscaping up to date or does it need a good trimming?
  7. Do the sprinklers need to be reset as the days shorten, cool off, and our yards don’t need as much water?

Other considerations

  • We do more cooking inside our homes during the winter. When was the last time you checked the oven vents to see if they are clogged with grease? Perhaps it’s time to toss them into the dishwasher or soak them overnight.
  • How about the chimney? When was the last time you had your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned? Have any birds nested in there over the summer? The first time you light a fire is not the time you want to discover this!
  • The same goes for our automobiles. We don’t need snow chains, we don’t have to deal with salt on the roads, we don’t need to worry that our engine has frozen overnight. But when was the last time you took a good look at the tires? How is the tread holding up? We don’t get too much rain in southern California, but when we do you want to make sure your tires will be able to stop your car in a timely manner.
  • Don’t forget the bathrooms and the washer/dryer. Do the toilets ‘phantom flush’ causing you to pay for water you don’t use?
  • When was the last time you checked the dryer vent? Lint can build up in the vent hose and cause fires. Dryer lint is one of the most flammable things in your home.
  • And finally, make sure when you burn candles, you burn them in containers.



Susanne Romo LUTCF 0720743 is a licensed insurance professional and freelance writer. She is currently at work on her book Synergy Networking and blogs at

By Michelle Baker
In Blog
Dec 6th, 2014



Interview with Anisa Telwar Kaicker, founder and president of Anisa International, the beauty industry’s leading global cosmetic brush and accessory solutions innovator


Anisa Telwar Kaicker

As I conducted my research, I discovered so much more about Anisa Telwar Kaicker, the kind of information that I know you will love knowing: about her, her business, and of course, her product that I am certain many of us have handy in our cosmetic bags.

As a consumer, it is easy to forget that all businesses are started and run by people, people who have interests, families, and compelling stories of how they began. Here is Anisa’s in her own words. Thank you, Anisa, for your interest, candidness, time, and of course, your fantastic company and products!


MGM: Please tell us how you initially became involved in the beauty industry.

ANISA: While working for my entrepreneurial mother at her import/export company, I met a Korean businessman who was manufacturing prestige makeup artist brushes. We ultimately decided to partner together, and I founded Anisa International in 1992 as the U.S. marketing arm for these products. I had sales and business development experience, but this was my first foray into the cosmetic industry, which was largely dominated by big names. I was going door-to-door to beauty brands like Revlon in order to convince their top executives that our brushes were unlike any on the market. It took a lot of moxie – that’s for sure – and while I had a business partner, I was developing and growing Anisa International largely on my own.

In 2003, I made the decision to open my own manufacturing plant in Tianjin, China. It was a big risk, but I believed a fully-integrated company was the only way to ensure the quality, innovation and pricing that my customers had come to expect. Since then, we’ve grown the business tremendously, employing more than 600 people worldwide and are on target to reach $35 million in revenue this year.

MGM: What was the turning point for you when you realized you were “on” to something with your products?

ANISA: When I entered the beauty world, the industry was in flux and the demand for accessories was really starting to build. Brands founded by makeup artists – like Trish McEvoy and Bobbi Brown – were taking off, and they believed in the importance and the artistry of the cosmetic brush. Each of them wanted a different brush for every formula type and makeup look. I knew I’d hit on an opportunity to differentiate my company by focusing on innovation and design. We looked at every aspect of the cosmetic brush – the fiber, the head, the handle, the ferrule – and developed tools that were both functional and stylish. We also started imagining the possibilities of one-to-one pairings between product and accessory.


MGM: Your mother was an entrepreneur. What did you learn as a young girl growing up with a business savvy mother?

ANISA: I was very fortunate to see firsthand what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and a strong businesswoman. The time spent with my mother was formative – from my experiences as a kid helping her make her sales kits to my role as vice president of business development at her company when I was 19.

As head of a business largely servicing the Middle East, she was often one of the few females in the room. My mother was a risk taker and trusted her gut instinct – two qualities she instilled in me that were key when deciding whether to open my plant in China.

Most importantly, she believed in relationship building and could establish a unique trust with her customers. The ultimate salesperson, my mother taught me that people want to work with someone they like, who offers valuable services and who treats them well.

But I also learned how I would run some aspects of my business differently. She wasn’t the best at delegating responsibilities and was much more interested in the sale than the day-to-day operations. In order to grow and lead a company, you have to develop these skills.

MGM: Who were some of your role models/mentors when you were young? As your business grew, who were some of your mentors?

ANISA: Norm Brodsky, the veteran entrepreneur and Inc. magazine columnist, was one of my early mentors. Norm is someone who truly knows how to take a business to the next level in a smart, effective and efficient way. I was actually profiled in his and Bo Burlingham’s book The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up.

I also always look to other entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson, for inspiration, even if I don’t know them personally. Regardless of your company’s size, there’s a mutual experience and an understanding and appreciation of the energy and commitment it takes to develop a business from the ground up.

Books like The Power of Positive Thinking and Think and Grow Rich have also been instrumental in helping me see the value in being a self-starter.


MGM: How did your vision for your company and its employees change/evolve as you and your business grew?

ANISA: While we’ve grown and developed, we’ve always stuck to our core fundamentals – artistry, purpose, strategy, service, innovation, excellence and partnership. With those pillars guiding us, I’ve made several strategic decisions throughout our 22 years in order to anticipate and address changing market needs. I’ve found that our company and our vision will evolve in a smart, efficient and natural way if we maintain these principles.

As I mentioned earlier, establishing our wholly-owned manufacturing plant in Tianjin, China, was a big turning point for us, providing more quality control over our products and adding to our team a highly-skilled artisan workforce in an area with a rich history of brushmaking. This year, we expanded into new product categories including nail accessories, bath and spa products, cosmetic bags and more, allowing us to provide solutions for consumers’ all-encompassing beauty needs and fill market gaps that other companies aren’t addressing.

MGM: What is the most important thing you have learned in business that has stayed with you and carried you through the hard times?

ANISA: It’s all about commitment. There will always be peaks and valleys, reminding us that we can pull ourselves out of a downswing, but we also can’t rest on our laurels during an upswing. You have to be committed to an overall vision and to constant improvement. This allows you to maintain your position in successful times, to reinvent or course correct in challenging times and to seek new adventures in times of growth.

MGM: What are some of the challenges that made you stronger and more committed?

ANISA: One of the biggest challenges I’ve struggled with is the natural coming and going of employees. When you first start a business and you create a team that works well together, it’s easy to envision that that team will be a constant and that you’ll grow the company together. But that’s not always the case. You’ll have some committed, long-term employees but for the most part, many people will enter your doors, do incredible work and move on to the other opportunities. That’s ok, and it’s the norm in most business settings. I’m reminded that at the end of the day, this is my company, and I’ve got to be the consistent force pushing us forward and creating the best work environment. It’s important that I establish the team and re-envision the team when needed, but most importantly, I must lead the team.


MGM: You are a member of the Committee of 200. What is your favorite aspect of mentoring women entrepreneurs?

For those who aren’t familiar with the Committee of 200 (C200), it’s an invitation-only organization of 400 female entrepreneurs and corporate leaders with the goal to foster, celebrate and advance women’s leadership in business. Before my involvement with C200, I didn’t always notice how there was a disproportionate number of men to women leading companies and making the key decisions. It tremendously increased my awareness, and now I find myself questioning why there aren’t more women involved.

I wholeheartedly believe that women should be leaders – they have a natural affinity for it. Whether it’s my work with C200 or my other mentorship efforts, I enjoy speaking with women in business and the next generation of future leaders. When I’m able to share my story and the lessons I’ve learned along the way, it gives them a concrete example that being a successful female entrepreneur is possible.


MGM: Where do you turn for inspiration/rejuvenation?

ANISA: We have so many external influences that are constantly vying for our attention, so when I’m seeking inspiration and rejuvenation, I work on finding it internally. It’s essential that people allow themselves quiet time when they can look inside and find the answers or the great ideas that are often muffled by their hectic daily lives. If I’m making time and taking care of myself, I find I am a better leader and can rejuvenate and inspire my team, as well.

MGM: On a lighter note: if you could have dinner with one person in all of history, who would it be, and why?

I always love this question! I’d have to say either Albert Einstein or Nikola Tesla. Their contributions to science and society as a whole are remarkable, but I’m amazed at how they were able to go beyond what we typically think is innovative. I’d love to know what turning point in their lives made them so committed to their vision and to discovery.



Anisa Telwar Kaicker is the founder and president of Anisa International, Inc., the beauty industry’s leading global cosmetic brush and accessory solutions innovator. She oversees the strategic direction and all worldwide business operations, bringing expert design, market research and manufacturing capabilities to top beauty brands including Sephora, Smashbox, Estée Lauder and more. Anisa’s business philosophy is to design relevant and responsibly-sourced private label products that fill market gaps, providing her clients with a competitive edge and empowering their consumers.

Her entrepreneurial spirit, uncanny market foresight and focus on developing cooperative partnerships with clients and collaborators have fueled the company’s growth over the past 22 years. Today, Anisa International employs more than 600 people worldwide, including its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, manufacturing facility in China, New York showroom and design studio and offices across the U.S. and U.K. Her philosophy is proven through her success, with the company appearing three times on the INC 5000 list.

She is an avid supporter of mentorship opportunities and community giving. She is a member of Committee of 200, an invitation-only organization of more than 400 female entrepreneurs and corporate leaders with the goal to foster, celebrate and advance women’s leadership in business. In 2013, she was named a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year awards. In addition, she and her company contribute products, financial support and time to local and global charities including LifeLine Animal Project, for which she serves as chair of the board.


By Kate Mayer Mangan
In Blog
Nov 19th, 2014


I’m an Ann marie Houghtailing disciple. When she starts talking, I reach for my notebook and pen, not wanting to miss one of her gems of wisdom. And so, when I found myself seated on a plane between Ann marie and a physician, I paid attention.


The doctor had a big salary negotiation coming up, she told us. Not one to miss an opportunity to help a woman negotiate her worth, Ann marie launched into a full-fledged negotiations strategy session. A communication plan was developed and refined. Likely counterarguments were considered and addressed. “Bullet point all your contributions,” Ann marie told the doctor (who had a great many contributions to list). “Use facts, not feelings. You’re simply asking to be appropriately compensated.” Ann marie continued generously dispensing negotiations advice for free until the doctor (and I by osmosis) were armed with an entire arsenal of negotiations tools.

A few weeks later, on a chilly Saturday morning, I found myself toweling off a dewy swing at the park. Another mom, a long-time friend of mine, was doing the same. We smiled at each other, silently acknowledging the absurdity of drying swings with towels. Once our toddlers were safely seated in semi-dry swings, we began talking about holiday plans, pre-school crafts, and our jobs. She told me, “I really need to figure out a way to ask for a raise. It’s ridiculous what they pay me.”

“The wisdom acquired with the passage of time is a useless gift unless you share it.”

Without even making a conscious decision to do so, Ann marie’s wisdom started coming from my mouth. I heard myself advising my friend to list her contributions and to avoid talking about what she “felt” or “believed.” We discussed how to set up the meeting and what to say if the first answer was No.

I said, “Ask to be appropriately compensated.” She looked at me and commented, “Oh, that’s good. Way easier to say than, ‘I want a raise.’”

She looked resolute, determined to make her ask. By then, our boys were squirming to get out of their swings, and our strategy session ended, complete enough to do its job.

About a week later, I got an email with the subject line of “It Worked!!!!” My friend related how she’d used the negotiations strategy we’d developed at the park and gotten her raise. Every penny she’d requested, she received.

Esther Williams said, “The wisdom acquired with the passage of time is a useless gift unless you share it.” It’s true. We all have knowledge to share, if only we pay attention to what we know and who it can help.

Pay attention, and pass on your wisdom. You never know where—on a plane, beside a swing set—you’ll meet someone who needs your knowledge.



About Kate Mayer Mangan: Kate Mayer Mangan’s work has appeared in the Huffington Post, LA Daily Journal, and Ms. JD. Learn more at:

By Deborah Gerard
In Blog
Nov 6th, 2014

Pursue written on multiple road sign

MGM: Please tell us how you came to be President and CEO of Parker Staffing Services.


Debbie Crandall, President and CEO, Parker Staffing Services

Debbie: I was at the right place at the right time! Truly, that’s what it was. Elizabeth Parker, the founder of Parker Staffing Services, retired, and sold the company to a publically traded company in the mid-west. That company’s business was medical staffing – something that we didn’t do. The CEO gave her a deal she couldn’t refuse and, in January 2005, Parker joined the medical staffing company.

Within the year, the company went up for sale again. The CEO of the medical staffing company stepped down after the board of directors found he was conducting some unscrupulous business practices. I was made President of Parker Staffing at that time and my main responsibility was to represent Parker to potential buyers. It was then that I decided that I wanted to buy Parker. I put together an investment group and I went to the Board of Directors and made a pitch. They turned me down because Parker was very successful, and a successful piece of their business, and they didn’t want to sell it. They wanted to sell the business as a whole.

Jackson Healthcare bought us, and so my next step was to approach the buyer, Rick Jackson, and try to carve Parker out, and buy it. He said, “Yes, I’ll sell it to you.” He named the price, and I said, “You’re crazy.” It was too much. He then said, “Here’s the deal. I want you to stay with the company and I want to make you President and CEO.” I said, “We have to come to an agreement on a few things,” and he said, “Write them down.” I had a list of about ten items, and I emailed it over to him and within five minutes he agreed to them, signed the document, and had it back to me. He gave me the opportunity to purchase a piece of the company, which I did.

MGM:   Do you have a financial background?

Debbie: No.

MGM: What do you believe were the attributes that Rick Jackson saw in you that had him agree to sell a piece of the company to you and make you President and CEO?

Debbie: I knew the business really well. I had a lot of background and I’d been in the staffing industry for many years. I worked for a national service where I oversaw eight offices, and I worked for a locally owned service down in San Francisco. When I came to Parker, 15 years ago, I made a conscious decision to come back to a privately held, locally owned, high-quality, staffing company. That’s where my heart is. It fits my personality. When I moved to Seattle I researched the best staffing company in Seattle, and it was Parker. I joined them, and all of the circumstances I just explained took place. I knew the business, but I’ve also learned a lot since.

MGM: Please tell us more about what you have learned?

Debbie:   I’ve learned what it takes to make a business successful – and, it’s the people, the people that work for you. It’s also the culture that you create. Yes, you have to have a sound business model, and you have to have a great value proposition, and you have to understand what you are selling, and make sure you understand your market. But, it’s all about the people, it truly is. There was a time in my career when I thought I could do it all, and it was all up to me. And it was very frustrating. But once I got it – I got that piece of it – that’s when the business took off, and I started enjoying it even more.

MGM: Please tell us more about that ‘piece’ you say you got?

Debbie: When I knew that I couldn’t do it all. Giving people the autonomy and the power to use their brain. And have them engaged in the business and be able to make decisions, and take part in strategy meetings. It all came together when I got it. It was an ah-ha moment for me when it hit.

MGM: The Puget Sound Business Journal has, for the second year in a row, honored Parker as a finalist for Washington’s Best Workplaces. This is a prestigious acknowledgment due to the in-depth survey process that covered four key areas: leadership, culture, employee benefits, and work/life balance. Tell us where your fingerprints are – your DNA – on those four key areas.

Debbie: My secret sauce?

MGM: Yes, your secret sauce! (Loud laughter)

Debbie: It is the engagement of the employees. I can explain it best by telling you a little story.

We have an annual kick-off meeting every year, and, at that meeting, in 2012, I announced to the whole company that I was not going to hire anyone from outside the company during 2012. I was giving everyone the opportunity to move up. I wasn’t specific about it. I just put it out there. In 2012, I promoted 11 people, which is a lot for a small company. People got it. They saw clearly that there was an opportunity for them to move their career forward. It was great watching people step up, take responsibility and start having a voice. That was the point when the culture turned the most. It was when I showed that hard work, creativity and engagement were the keys to their careers.

MGM: What else helped turn the culture around?

Debbie: I also made a change in myself. I was willing to listen, and I let them know that it was safe for them to speak up – whether it was positive or negative. If you keep asking, and you listen, and you take action they see that you are not just talking off the top of your head.

MGM: What is the biggest challenge that you face day-to-day?

Debbie: Staying in front of the changing economy. Our industry is affected so much by the economy. Hiring. We’re the first to go, and the first to come back. It’s trying to project what’s going to be happening in the years to come.   Staying current, staying in front of the trend, and staying in front of my competition. And I don’t mean competition for the business. I mean competition for my internal employees. I want to retain them. I don’t have the kind of financial strength that a lot of the companies in my space have, for example the national services or the Amazons and the Google’s – the sexy companies that can, and are, offering so much. That’s a huge challenge to make sure that I am offering a great benefit package and all the perks I can to keep my employees.

MGM: Do you think the professional job market is becoming easier, or more challenging, for women to navigate today?

Debbie: Easier, easier for sure. Women know what they can accomplish today. The world is a lot more open and accepting of intelligent women – the skies the limit. It is now accepted and a way of life for women to not want to be legal secretaries, but attorneys. Women don’t want to be administrative assistants; they want to be the boss. They want to be engineers. Now, the glass ceiling, as far as salary is concerned, is still there. It’s a lot more out in the open today, but it’s still there.

MGM: Why do you think it is so difficult for women to articulate and ask for their worth?

Debbie:   In the US, I think it is the culture and how women are brought up. It will be a lot different for the next generation, for sure. I can only talk from my personal experience. I was brought up to not stand out, to be polite, and to not rock the boat, and that good things will come to you if you just work hard. I think the generation after me, which is my sister, is different and not like me at all. And, the generation after that will be even more demanding of what they believe they are worth, and more.  I think an organization like Millionaire Girls’ Movement is a prime example of what women should be involved in.

MGM: If you could go back and talk to your 25-year old self, what would you tell her?

Debbie: Pay attention to your accomplishments. Write down your accomplishments – journal. Build a network of professional people around you – of mentors – and listen to them. Embrace your own, unique persona.

MGM: What are three skills women in business need?

Debbie: #1: A thick skin. It’s a good thing. You need to balance it with the feminine side of you – a thick skin with a soft hand. That’s the differentiator between men and women.

#2: A financial background. I did not have one when I got into business, and it held me back for a while. When I saw that it was holding me back I stopped and said, “Ok, you have to learn this stuff.” So I did.

#3: To have the ability to come in every single day feeling great. Looking at the glass half full, and if it’s not half full figuring out how it’s going to get there in a short amount of time. Oh, I have one more.

#4: Humility. A leader has to have a sense of humility about them. It goes with looking inward. What part in a situation are you playing? Sometimes you have to step up and apologize.

MGM: What is the best decision you ever made?

Debbie: Staying with Parker through the acquisition, and all of the ups and downs. It was very tumultuous. We didn’t know who we were going to be sold to. My employees were scared. It would have been a lot easier to walk away.

MGM: What was the worst decision you ever made?

Debbie: I hired someone back in 2010 that was a totally wrong decision. I had to eat some humble pie. I had to step up and tell my executive team. I am still admitting it – even to this day – explaining where we were, and where we’ve come. That person still haunts me. I’m still feeling the impact.

MGM: What is something that would surprise people to learn about you?

Debbie: Probably that I have an introverted side to me. And that is, when I go home at night I get into my pajamas and I curl up with my cat, and watch TV. I read, and I love that time by myself.   I like my alone time. I just started reading for pleasure three years ago. Everything before that was work related.

MGM: What’s one piece of advice you can offer the professional women reading this interview?

Debbie: I would encourage them to know themselves, and then get to know themselves even better. Know your weaknesses and your strengths. That takes a long time. Learn through coaching, mentoring, counseling, and do it now. Get it now. That will help you.

Also, don’t think you have to move up the ladder just because that’s someone’s expectation, or one you have in your head. Sometimes that’s not the best position for you. Don’t think you have to manage people – that that’s a big promotion. Oftentimes you can add more value by not managing people, but by managing a function.

MGM: What is your greatest achievement so far in life?

Debbie: I don’t have children. That was a conscious decision that my husband and I made, together. Because I’ve been so focused on my career my greatest achievement is that, right now, I am surrounded by the best people – the best friends, and family, and colleagues. I think that is a huge achievement. At one point in my life I could look around and count on one hand how many close people I had in my life. That didn’t feel good, and so I’ve made it a point to spend time – make time – to develop those relationships, and I’m just surrounded by wonderful, wonderful people – both men and women.

MGM: What a lovely way to wrap up this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?

Debbie: I don’t think so. You’re going to make me cry.

By Jacqueline Vinaccia
In Blog
Nov 5th, 2014

Image courtesy of vorakorn at

This year I was fortunate enough to be a part of a unique group of women coming together to learn and grow from each other’s experience, wisdom and grace. We have been facilitated by the fearless founder of the Millionaire Girl’s Movement, Ann marie Houghtailing. And together we have learned that our greatest strengths come from supporting each other, sharing information and mentoring other women.

I frequently share my exciting new found knowledge, motivation, and confidence with my own daughters, who will begin their second year in college in a few short weeks. (They are twins.) I am constantly sharing articles and video clips on the importance of taking charge of their own destiny. Some of it they connect with immediately, some of it doesn’t stick right away. I comfort myself with the notion that in the right moment, the “lesson” will come back to them when they need it.


However, my most poignant “pay it forward” moment came in the recently when one of my associates came into my office to discuss a pay raise. Like so many of us, she is a Mom with a career as well as a family. She recently requested and was granted the opportunity to flex her schedule to give her more time with her children in the afternoon. She is still working on the logistics of this arrangement, but I am excited to be part of a firm that could even provide her this opportunity. Let’s face it, she is me, fifteen years ago.

She came to me the day before our monthly partners’ meeting to discuss if I thought it might not be a good time for her to ask for a raise given that she had just requested and been granted a flex work schedule. I found her approach disheartening so I pushed. Did she want a raise? “Yes.” Was she asking me for a raise? “No.” She was afraid of offending the partnership because she is a mom working a modified schedule. That was it. I could take no more. I told her to get up and leave my office as though this discussion had never taken place. I would send her an article. She would read it and then, when and if she felt like a discussion was necessary, she could return to my office.


After she left, I found my link to Ann marie’s article on the culture of gratitude that keeps so many women from honoring themselves and asking for their true worth. (

About an hour later, my associate returned to my office and asked if she could talk to me. She told me how long she has been with the firm, how long it had been since she last received a pay increase and that she believed she had grown as an attorney, and was more valuable to the firm. We discussed her work and what she wanted in a pay raise. The discussion wasn’t perfect, but it was much better than our first try.

I took her request to my partners at our meeting. My associate got a raise. In our meeting where I informed her of her raise, we discussed the next time she asks for a pay increase and how to do an even better job. (For example, she knew specific hours and dollars information that she had not brought up during her meeting with me requesting a raise. That information would have been valuable to me in my meeting with my partners advocating that she get the increase.)


I jokingly thanked Ann marie for her article that helped me pay my employee a higher salary. However, my gratitude to Ann marie and my group should be and is legitimate. My associate is happier and more invested in her place in our firm. I am counting on her investment in herself to create a better work product and thereby increase the value of our firm’s brand. I have no doubt that by helping her I have helped myself.

By Joy Lin
In Blog
Nov 4th, 2014

Business TeamDo you catch yourself humming the lyrics of Destiny’s Child “Independent Woman” as you organize your monthly expenses and gleefully read up on your newly opened Roth IRA?

If the above describes you at all, you are a millennial female. The millennial female has a unique mix of passion-driven but mindful financial goals. She grew up with parents that nurtured her with the same monetary potential as her male siblings, learned how to earn and spend her money, and witnessed the skewed distribution of wealth in our world. When the Great Recession hit, she realized that the rosy timeline of college, job, and marriage was not an automatic ticket to personal or financial happiness.

As a product of this unique time, we have subconsciously developed money mindsets to create the most out of our skill sets, passions, and financial growth.

As young professionals, we are saving more than ever, creating multiple streams of income, and spending in areas that invest in us. We are delaying marriage and children to build our own financial empire first and foremost.

As we navigate through new tools and opportunities for building wealth, we uncover how our money mindsets can help or hurt us. Here are four Money Mindsets developed by the Female Millennial and how we can thrive in each:

1- In Debt and at Peace

In 2013, 34% of millennial (25 to 32-year-old) had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 25% of Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) and 24% of Baby Boomers when they were at the same age, according to the Pew Research Center.

Many millennials began their professional careers with a pile of debt. While this is a major area of stress for the millennial, we are also resourceful by nature, often seen crowd funding for projects, applying for scholarships, and making a case with our employers to help fund higher education. To thrive in this mindset, learn more about the market, develop plans for accelerated payments, and create a healthy relationship with paying off debt.

The early practice of creating a payment plan and sticking to it will empower you to see money as a resource, take control of your financial goals, and understand how to approach any large investment you make in the future.

2- Mindful Spending

Another mindset that is unique to the female millennial is an interest in mindful spending. Though many millennials, including myself, jumped straight into an obligatory 9-5, happy hour, and going out routine, many didn’t take long to realize the value of our money and how to channel it to specific causes or priorities.

Millennials thrive when spending on health, fitness, travel, art, and building relationships. We resonate with services and socially conscious businesses built to nourish our physical and mental health. Our generation has funded major movements for mindful eating and lifestyle design. As a millennial female, make the most of this mindset by supporting businesses that align with your values, investing in healthy activities, and spending money on expansive experiences rather than temporary items.

3- Girl Boss

One thing has certainly stood out to me in the many females I’ve coached along the way. Millennial females are branding mavens, multi-passionate, and proactive self-starters. This has naturally birthed a generation of women who thrive with side gigs, start-ups, or independent work. Our mindset that a secure job is no longer the one where you work for “The Man” has encouraged us to tap into our passions, expand skill sets, and create multiple streams of income.

We thrive with the flexibility to set our own schedules, create work that is aligned with a passion, and leverage technology to make sales or provide services remotely. To exercise the beauty of this mindset, create a website, start a side business, and get certified in other skills to expand your expertise across multiple platforms. It’s the perfect time to take action on our ideas and master income diversification.

4- Turn up for Tech

Finally, the millennial female loves technology. She grew up with instant messenger and access to real-time data. It’s no surprise that she is great at leveraging technology and online resources to engage with her money.

As the landscape of money management and financial planning dramatically become more engaging and easier to access, more and more professional women are approaching their budgeting and savings like an interactive game and less like a chore. Not only are companies and banks building apps and programs that cater to the millennial goal-oriented mindset, but also information is curated and delivered daily by successful women of all backgrounds.

We can expand in this money mindset by learning from female financial mentors, supporting technology startups, and integrating apps into our personal and professional finances. Blogs like and apps like LearnVest are just a couple places to get started.

Millennial females have a unique platform to launch their ideas, work, and financial future. Thrive in your individual money mindsets by staying challenged, maintaining full responsibility over your finances, and reaching outside of your circle when you need extra mentorship. What are your millennial money mindsets?

By admin
In Blog
Oct 20th, 2014

How not to behave

It turns out that I’m a complete raging jackass when someone compliments me about practically anything. When someone says something really lovely, instead of receiving the gift I throw the gift down on the ground and give the gift giver the verbal equivalent of a punch in the snout. I should probably get on Dr. Phil for analysis so he could ask, “How’s that working out for ya?” I would respond, “Well, Phil as it happens, I don’t really care for being an jackass, so not that great.”

It’s like I have some form of Turrets that’s triggered by compliments. For example, if someone compliments my beauty (by the way – just writing that makes me squirm, but hey, I’m all about discomfort) I might question that person’s eyesight or make a statement on the excessive kindness of the remark. It’s as if to suggest they’ve extended an act of charity that should be considered a taxable deduction by the IRS. I recently knew I had an incredible problem when someone very kindly said, “You’re one of the smartest people I know.” I repaid this statement as any raging jacksass would with, “You must not know many people. You need to get out more.” Notice the hostility in the comeback. I respond as if someone insulted me rather than complimented me. Recently I walked into the office of a law firm for an event and the receptionist said, “You have the most beautiful skin. You’re just gorgeous.” I looked at her, laughed, and said, “Have you started drinking the wine already?” Questioning someone’s sobriety is an excellent way to express your gratitude. After she laughed and I felt like a jackass I went with, “Thank you, that’s so kind or you. I would like you to be my new best friend.” After you serve up a mug of rudeness, I suggest a sarcasm chaser to really finish things off.

When I’m not being hostile I do something that’s equally unattractive and jackassesque, I diminish myself. It goes something like this, “I can’t thank you enough for what you did. You’re an amazing human being.” While a simple “you’re welcome” would probably serve quite nicely here, I prefer to go with, “I’m not amazing. Any decent person would do the same.” This would be my response if say I gave someone a kidney, allowed them to live with me until they got back on their feet or watched their children for a week while they went on vacation. Please don’t acknowledge me. Just being average over here, please keep walking, nothing to see here. It’s like I’m covering my eyes and saying, “You can’t see me.”

I value humble people. There is something beautiful about just being in the world as you are without constantly chasing validation, compliments and recognition. Social media has become a place to constantly brag. But I wasn’t being humble I was trying to be invisible and I’m not alone. The impulse to shrink, dismiss, deflect and deny are ways to devalue ourselves. If we fail to accept our greatness, how can we possibly expect to earn our worth or expect to be valued? I’m practically screaming at people PLEASE DON’T VALUE OR ACKNOWLEDGE ME!

Recently, I was enjoying lunch with some amazing women when one of the women mentioned how I had completely changed her thinking about something. I was in the middle of one of my ninja compliment deflection moves when the friend sitting next to me placed her hand on mine and said, “Just say thank you.” So I did. I’ve known for a long time that my response was inappropriate and frankly, rude. When someone gives you a gift the only appropriate response is, “thank you.”

Some of us make ourselves smaller to make others more comfortable. We do our best to take up less space literally and figuratively. In the last month I’ve worked on just saying “thank you.” It’s hard. I want to default to the comfort of sarcasm but I don’t. I stand firm because I know that the habit is destructive to me and to every woman watching me. Sometimes the discomfort is so great I shift in my seat, but I’m working hard to look people in the eye and accept compliments with grace. I invite you to do the same and see how it changes how you feel about your value.

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