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February 22, 2016

Guest Post from Stephanie Parker, Panelist, Speak Up in Your Community Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

 

I am honored to have the opportunity to be part of the Speak Up Women Conference at the UN. I never imagined that my little Zipadee-Zip invention I created to help our daughter sleep would set the stage and build a platform for speaking up and affecting change and community like it has. ‘Speaking up’ for me has been two-fold. Both my faith and desire to give back are the driving factors that have given our business a much bigger purpose and mission. I’d like to share how I’ve been able to grow support and community around these causes in hopes that you can apply some of these principles to speak up in your own communities and affect change.

Stephanie Parker

How to build a community with your voice:

Identify your passions: Before you can embark on a mission, you have to identify what you are willing to fight for… what defines you. The road will not always be easy when you make a commitment to speaking up so it’s important that you are personally invested in what you are fighting for or speaking up about.

Our Sleepingbaby.com Company started from one of the things I’m most passionate about and that is my faith in God. I remember sitting on my bed in tears as I faced the reality that I’d have to go back to work, only to have most of my salary go towards someone else raising our daughter while I was at work. My heart’s prayer was to stay at home with her. In a moment of desperation, I remember opening my Bible to a verse that says, “To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ever ask or imagine, by the power that is at work within us through Christ Jesus… To Him be the glory throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21. As tears streamed down my face, I prayed that if God chose to bless this little Zipadee-Zip invention, I’d give Him the glory for it.

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http://www.sleepingbaby.com

We grew to a $5 million dollar a year, debt-free business in less than 4 years by word of mouth marketing and a $700 investment…which was truly nothing short of miraculous. I feel an incredible responsibility to tell that story as my faith in God is what started it all. It may not be a belief everyone shares, but it’s a story I’m not ashamed of and am willing to speak up about regardless of the backlash. It’s also that faith that led me through one of my biggest trials of my life and ultimately created the community of women that would provide the second purpose that I have spoken up about….

Tell your story: Stories are the most powerful tool you have to affect change and touch hearts in a real and lasting kind of way. Stories are essential when hoping to build a community. There may be a lot of facts or logical reasoning that can support your cause, but nothing will be more powerful than what really connects you to your audience. The most vital ingredients that come into play when telling your story is that it is genuine and true and from the heart.

Our business built on faith led to the story that founded our community. In December of 2013, I lost a baby during pregnancy. It was the most gut-wrenching, excruciating thing I’ve ever endured and I never understood until that moment how much you can love a person you’ve never met before. To top it off, I was running a baby business where I saw photos of cute, healthy babies every day. I didn’t know how to face that, and I quickly got horribly behind on orders. I finally had to tell my customers publically that I had lost a child and to please be patient as I catch up. What resulted impacted me in a way I cannot entirely explain. I was flooded with women who reached out to me to share their losses and words of encouragement with me. They expressed being grateful that someone finally spoke up about an often unspoken struggle. Their stories not only built our community of women in a lasting and beautiful way, but they also helped me heal and move forward. My decision to speak up opened up a new passion in my heart… to help other women to speak up about their struggles and encourage true healing in a place that often goes unaddressed.

Be transparent about your weaknesses:

There is nothing more powerful than genuine transparency. Not only can people relate to it, but everyone secretly craves the ability to just be real without having to go through the walls and masks people often put up to hide their true selves. Deep down everyone wants to be known and when we are willing to open ourselves up to that, great things can happen.

When my husband and I made it on Shark Tank, I was faced with the decision of whether or not to share the loss of our baby and how our community of women helped me heal. I made the decision that if I didn’t speak up, I could miss out on touching someone’s life the way our customers had touched mine. That single decision resulted in an amazing chain of events. After airing on the show, I was contacted by a women named Kelly who was pregnant with a baby that doctors said may not survive to birth due to severe heart conditions. Doctors recommended that she terminate the pregnancy but she shared that after seeing my story on TV, she was renewed with strength and determination to fight for her son. Our community of women surrounded that little boy in prayer and support. Little ‘Finn’ was born on January 2nd of 2015 and is alive and well today. Finn has been in the hospital and his hospital stay prompted our business to raise money for his family and the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House supports families who’s little ones are in the hospital for severe medical conditions. Our company was able to raise tens of thousands of dollars through the community of women that rallied around in support. This was a testament to what big and beautiful things can come from transparency and not being afraid to speak up!

Expect negativity and consider it a compliment: Whenever you unashamedly stand up for what you believe whether it be in business, religiously, philanthropically or otherwise, you are bound to have some naysayers. With the anonymity of the Internet, people feel much freer to share their thoughts. After I shared my story on Shark Tank, I actually had someone accuse me of making up the loss of my baby for publicity reasons! Other people criticized Kelly’s decision to keep a baby that might have medical issues! People can be hurtful, but it’s important to focus on the change and beauty you can bring into this world when you aren’t afraid to speak up! Imagine what could have happened had Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mother Theresa chose not to speak out in words and action… or what could happen if YOU don’t speak up. You biggest fear should not be found in speaking up, but instead missing out on a bigger purpose for your life!

Exceed your potential and SPEAK UP!

I look forward to meeting you at the Speak Up Women Conference on March 5th at the United Nations and hearing about your experience!


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February 8, 2016

Meet Laura Fredricks, a Panelist on the Speak Up for Financing Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference happening at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016!

LAURA FREDRICKS is a multi-million dollar ASK-maker who, as Founder & CEO of THE ASK©, teaches nonprofits and businesses how to confidently, willingly and successfully ask for money. Fredricks is today’s leading authority on “How to A$K© for Money – and More of It!” She has helped hundreds of organizations worldwide raise multi-millions through her unique approach to fundraising. She is author of “THE A$K: How to ASK for your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project and Business Venture.” Most recently Laura joined a star-studded list of Wellness Experts and is the “Money Wellness Expert” with an all new 30-day on-line money wellness program. Her newest book is: Money Wellness: Is Money Making you Sick?” www.expertontheask.com.

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Laura Fredricks – Panelist, Speak Up for Financing

As an attorney-turned-philanthropic advisor, she has enjoyed a lengthy and successful career in industries best known for making high profile, multi-million dollar A$KS – law and philanthropy – and is the first to merge strategies from both professional sectors into a mainstream practice known as THE ASK©. This new practice has placed LAURA on the national and international speaking circuits at conferences around the world from Amsterdam to Ann Arbor, Bologna to Boca Raton, Kenya to Kentucky, Moscow to Montreal, Sydney to Seattle, plus Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands. THE ASK© has also led LAURA to TV and radio appearances on local talk shows across the nation, and her expertise has been featured in national publications. Her four books on “How to A$K© for Money – and More of It” have become industry leaders. Follow her on TWITTER: @expertontheask.

 

Join Laura as she shares her insights
during this important panel about
Speak Up for Financing
at this amazing inaugural event!

For more about speaking up, watch
this video of our founder, Jennifer S. Wilkov, talk about
why it is so important to speak up and
the impact you can make when you do.

Go to www.SpeakUpWomen.com to learn more and
to register to attend the Speak Up Women Conference
at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016


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January 16, 2016

On what would be the 87th birthday of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., today, I declare that like his dream so many years ago, I have a dream too: that all men and women find their voices and speak up – in their personal, professional, and philanthropic lives.

We need to tell people who we are, how we feel, what we want, and what we care about. We as human beings are not mind readers. We don’t know what one another is really thinking, and we need to stop expecting others to guess.

Expressing yourself is a skill we are encouraged to develop as infants when parents and other adults encourage us to speak up when they ask us to “use your words.” Then sometime later on in our lives, many of us are asked to stop speaking up, are told we are speaking too loudly or at an inappropriate time, or are told not to ask and not to tell.

In this day and age when speaking up can be done in so many forms – in person (the best kind!), in written forms, digitally on the web and others , I see too many people in our society holding back, afraid to speak up about what they want and what matters to them.

Somewhere along their journeys, they forgot that the person who needs to give them permission to speak up is themselves. No one else.

There are some corporate companies today who I tip my hat to that encourage employees, customers, vendors and shareholders to speak up, just like when we were kids. They ask us to tell them what they are doing well and what they could do better. Companies such as Whole Food Markets, PepsiCo, Glaxo SmithKline, GM, Deloitte and others.

In our homes, in our schools, in our professional workplaces, we need to speak up and voice our wants and needs. We can make the world a better place, starting in our own individual worlds. It all starts when we garner the courage to open our mouths and speak up to the people who we want to tell most what our innermost desires are, what our ideas for improvement or something different are, and what we care about.

In our communities, we can make a great difference by speaking up about the things we see that we feel passionate, compassionate and curious about. We can put up and build homes for those who lost theirs as a result of natural disasters, fires or other causes. We can support families struck with illnesses that compromise their ability to survive. We can support local initiatives, build buildings and parks, voice our opposition to things we don’t like or approve of, and lots of other things.

But this single skill set of speaking up eludes so many of us, and it occurred to me that we needed to bring this capability back to the forefront of our society.

It is essential as we continue to grow and expand as a global community that each one of us understand that we have been given the ability to speak our minds, ask for what we want, and express ourselves freely as human beings.

It is our time.

And I have a dream that each of us as individuals can do it. We can speak up. The time is now.

Thank you, Dr. King. I agree with what James Taylor sings about in his song about Dr. King:

“We are bound together by the task that lies before us,
and the road that lies ahead of us.”

Let’s join hands and take the steps needed to really see the world become a global community where each of us can speak up without the fear of retaliation – in our backyards and homes, in our places of business, and everywhere else. Every little step will get us that much closer.

I hope you’ll join me – and speak up!

 

For more about speaking up, watch this video of our founder, Jennifer S. Wilkov, talk about why it is so important to speak up and the impact you can make when you do.

 

Go to http://www.SpeakUpWomen.com to learn more and to register to attend the Speak Up Women Conference at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016.