This issue’s focus is on successful and influential North Bay women, and we found so many more than we were able to include in our features. This further sampling of women having an impact on their North Bay communities asked the questions:
• What advice do you have for someone who wants to follow in your professional footsteps?
• What would you like your professional legacy to be?
Advice: My father was a successful local business owner, and I grew up watching the successes and challenges he faced every day. While it was always my dream to be part of his businesses, it wasn’t meant to be. But he inspired me to take my passion for my profession (human resources) and focus my efforts to create a new opportunity for myself. My advice: Don’t be deterred when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Never give up on your dream; even if you have to make adjustments, follow your passion.
Legacy: I’d like my professional legacy to be a positive and lasting impact on every single business I worked with—that I helped business owners succeed and reach their goals by applying my knowledge and passion for the HR profession. I’d also like to serve as a role model and mentor for other single mothers who want to be successful in business. Owning and running a small business presents challenges. It requires vision, perseverance and many long hours, but a balance can be struck between personal and work life, and the rewards are many.
Advice: To anyone considering the restaurant business as a career, I’d say, if it’s your passion, follow it. After 31 years in business and 3 Sonoma County locations, I’m thrilled to say that the best part of the restaurant business is working with the public. When Sam’s first opened, parents brought their children. Now all these years later, those children are bringing their children to Sam’s.
Legacy: I’d like my legacy to be that I did what I loved, and loved what I did.
Advice: The auto industry is a tough business with lots of competition, so you’ll need to work hard and have thick skin. Be sure you enjoy working around cars—the dust, dirt, noise and smells. Since cars are such an important part of our culture, be ready to be the coolest person in your friend group!
Legacy: The ultimate compliment after I’m gone would be that people miss my commitment to excellence, my community involvement and my leadership. Secondarily, I’d like to be a positive example to young women—that they can follow their ambitions in any field they find interesting.
Anita A. Brightman, Fellow PRSA, APR
A. Bright Idea Advertising and Public Relations, Sonoma and Bel Air, Md.
Advice: Good manners are good strategic planning. Treat every interaction as if it were the most important in your journey. Each instance along the way—every meeting and happenstance—could become the critical moment of opportunity to let you shine and show your worth.
Legacy:I’d like my professional legacy to be that I built a creative business that sustained my family and helped develop the next generation of PR professionals. Also that I mentored new entrepreneurs and assisted other small businesses through brand awareness and loyalty. It’s my hope that my professional legacy is reflected in the successes of those with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work as a mentor and share my passion.
Advice:It’s important to first understand the wants and needs of your market, then help find solutions that will provide opportunities for growth and success across the community. Every day, take advantage of the learning moments through listening and observation.An invaluable mantra is: “Be passionate about the betterment of an entire community.”
Legacy:I’d like my professional legacy to be that I was a valuable asset to my community through hard work, honesty and loyalty.
Advice:If you have an interest in finance, enjoy helping people and finding creative solutions—and if it means something to make a difference in people’s lives—I’d highly recommend researching a (fiduciary) investment advisory career.
Legacy:I’d like my legacy to include the fact that I genuinely cared about the success and well being of my clients, that I worked with them to help them reach their most important goals and that I made a difference in their lives.
Advice: Get into a tasting room or cellar and learn the wine business from the ground up. Walk a mile in their shoes before you suggest how wineries manage events or market their business.
Legacy: I’m proud that I’ve been able to connect Wine Road with so many nonprofits to help fund their needs. My goal has always been to create an equal playing field for all our members, the 400-case wineries as well as the 400,000-case wineries.
Advice:Find yourself an internship. Not only will you learn which aspects of PR you want to focus on, but you’ll meet incredible connections to last throughout your career. If you can find a mentor, the benefits will blow you away. I was lucky enough to work with a PR guru who generously shared her knowledge and advice and supported me as I came up in the ranks. It made me the fearless PR advocate I am today. Seek out positions where you can fully familiarize yourself with the many facets of the world of PR. There are so many different ways to shine in this industry—it’s highly valuable to see exactly which pieces fit your special talents. I’d say dream big and go for your perfect life’s work. Staying true to yourself and your passions truly does equal a successful business life.
Legacy: My job is about putting others in the spotlight, so it’s not about me. My success is measured in the fame and fortune I make possible for my clients, so I guess you could say I want my legacy to be one of great success stories about great people. Beyond that, I’d like to shift the public perception of PR from that of “spin doctor” to one of “great storyteller,” because that’s what we really do.
Advice: Listen to the people you are working to help. They know more about what they need and how to get to where they want to be, than we do. We’re just there to help them find the pathway and offer the support. It takes a community. Build your relationships and your partnerships.
Legacy: I’d like to have been a significant part of changing the culture in ways that reduce violence. I hope to have helped to create more options for people to find pathways to freedom and safety in their lives.
Advice: There are a lot of opportunities for women in construction. Here are five simple things I live by: Find something you’re passion about doing, do what you say you will do, share your ideas, never give up and learn from your mistakes.
Legacy: I’d like my professional legacy to be that my commitment to my obligations and the importance I put on my relationships—both business and personal—were the most important things. I grew up with the belief that hard work and the never ending will to deliver outstanding projects to our customers are what made our family company what it is today. My professional legacy would be that I didn’t forget where I came from and to continue to grow the family business.
10,000 Degrees (serving Marin and Sonoma counties)
Advice:This work needs people who are willing to stay in it for the long haul. It requires an unwavering commitment to equity and justice, and a relentless pursuit of opportunity for others. You’re setting the tone for those who come after you, so you must never give up.
Legacy: That every student—regardless of what family or zip code they’re from—has the same educational opportunity and the same chance to direct the course of his or her life.
Advice:Don’t be afraid to start by answering the phones, like I did 34 years ago. It’s a great way to learn. Never stop learning, network with your peers, take lots of classes, teach classes and workshops for others. Become the expert, then share your knowledge. Continue to learn, be honest and work hard. Stay up with the industry laws, technology and what your peers around the country are doing. Take every possible workshop and class you can.
Legacy:I’d like my professional legacy to be that never met a stranger and always took the time to assist others. Also that I loved giving back, especially to my community.
Advice:Be knowledgeable about real estate and development. Understanding nonprofit and affordable housing funding sources is complicated but, ultimately, rewarding. Building a rapport with local government officials is essential, as is being visible and active throughout Napa County.
Legacy: I’d like people to continue to build and rehabilitate as many affordable homes as possible for our growing population and help our residents to learn work and life skills to break the cycle of poverty.
Terra Firma Global Partners in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties
Advice: You need to be flexible, have tenacity, do your homework and constantly strive to learn and grow. Find your lane, and believe. The sky is the limit in this industry if you follow your passion and work hard.
Legacy: I’d like to know that I made a contribution to the industry in a meaningful way. That both my clients and our team feel nurtured and supported. I want people to say, long after my career, “Heidi was a woman of incredible passion, integrity, heart, vision and compassion. She knew her business and looked every day to help grow herself and others. She was a great leader.”
Advice:Read a lot, write and listen. Then tell stories. Write a script, then start shooting images. There are many “short” film festivals these days that are a great way to get started. Also, we have so many fantastic nonprofit organizations in the North Bay. Pick one or two and volunteer to create a video for them to tell their unique story.
Legacy: My professional legacy was on a t-shirt I bought at AFM, the American Film Market: BEEN THERE. FILMED THAT.
Ylisa Sanford Seymour, CFP, APMA
Spectrum Private Wealth Advisors, An Ameriprise Private Wealth Advisory Practice
Advice: Become an intern. Be willing to put in the hard work and get up each day ready to do your best, even though your best may vary from day to day.
Legacy: I’d like my professional legacy to be that clients and community members can articulate and recognize the accomplishments they achieved thanks to me and my team’s guidance. I want my children to be proud of their mother, who ran a thriving and successful business with heart and focused on helping people as well as being a positive member of the community.
Advice: Get as much experience as you can along the way, ask tons of questions and keep notes. No schooling can substitute for on-the-job experience.
Legacy:I’d like my professional legacy to be that I made lots of delicious wine memories for my customers, from wines that taste good now but also age well, so those “memories” will last for many years.
Advice: Let passion drive your career moves. It’s always been a priority for me to truly love the work I’m involved in and to be with an organization where I can make an impact.
Legacy: By expanding the brand of the Center for Well-Being, I want to make sure health education and chronic disease prevention strategies are an essential component of population health management in Sonoma County. I enjoy leading an organization that’s committed to transforming community health. I love finding innovative ways to expand our impact.
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Located at 1410 Neotomas Ave. in Santa Rosa,NorthBay biz magazine is a monthly business-to-business publication covering Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. This year, the magazine is celebrating 43 years of continuous operation. It originally hit the stands in 1975, when it was called Sonoma Business, and only covered Sonoma County. Norm and Joni Rosinski and John Dennis, acquired it in 2000 and changed its name to cover an expanded market. Today, the magazine is part of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. More here..