Mom Entrepreneur: Grace Keohohou
Business: Direct Selling Women’s Alliance
The Direct Selling Women’s Alliance (www.dswa.org) began around a typical little kitchen table when a group of women shared a vision of providing an opportunity for others to live their lives more fully while balancing their personal and professional needs. Never, in the 100 + year history of the direct selling profession, has there been an association dedicated to the needs of the independent network marketers and party plan professionals. Entrepreneurs from around the world now have a place to call their own… an Alliance designed with their success in mind; an alliance to support the direct selling industry.
Our goal is simple—to let direct selling professionals see themselves as capable of being anything they want and doing anything they want. We want everyone we reach to live life as their authentic best self. Direct selling entrepreneurs deserve to feel and act with all their power, and the DSWA is designed to equip and empower network them to do just that. The DSWA understands what it is like to lead with your heart while steering with your mind. We bring the best of both worlds together as a way of allowing independent business owners to be fully engaged in all phases of their life.
The DSWA is a community of like minded people who value the independence of having their own business. We support them every step of the way through our resource rich website and cutting edge virtual classes relevant to their career choice. We enrich the profession by providing personal and professional training through collaborative leadership retreats and an annual convention called “Celebration,” with attendees representing hundreds of direct selling and network marketing companies. We also offer extensive benefits geared toward making life easier: options for health care, discounts on office supplies and rental cars, free e-books and much more.
Bringing a message of integrity and hope to a local level, the DSWA Chapter program connects women and creates grassroots communities. These Chapter meetings educate and uplift, fulfilling the needs of local sellers across the globe. Whether a novice or a top leader, all members are valued and acknowledged for who they are. As an open and safe forum for sharing and growing, Chapter meetings allow attendees to learn powerful lessons from each other.
What inspired you to start your business?
What inspired us to start our business was truly the opportunity to support and serve women. I personally wanted to own and operate a company from my home so that I did not have to choose between a rewarding career and a thriving family life – I knew that I could have the best of both worlds and that others could have the same.
Now, 8 years later my personal mission is still the same and realized each and everyday both personally and for those I get to make a difference for.
Isn’t it amazing how one little idea can blossom into many grand ideas that make their mark on the world – one person at a time.
How long have you been in business?
We have been in business since 2001. Yet we launched our website in 2003.
What did you do in your past work life?
I worked with my family most of my life. I say I started out in pampers – going to work with my mother and father… yet they really put me to work when I was 5 years old. My mother and I started a gymnastics school in our basement that eventually grew into a franchise business with multiple locations. My past work involved, direct selling, writing, consulting, and beyond.
Describe your ideal workday.
My ideal workday is constantly moving forward. I connect on the telephone, participate in webinars, speak on conference calls, respond to emails, coach business builders and leaders, strategic planning to move my business forward, redesign of my website, volunteer for some of the causes I am apart of, new product development, follow up, and between all of that get a load of laundry in, take time to play outside with my youngest son who is not in school yet (1 year old) and basically whatever my heart desires.
I really love my family life, my work, and am grateful for the life I live.
What have been some of your major successes?
One of my major successes is keeping the harmony with my work and family life. I have worked very diligently to keep my children involved in the business and made a concise effort to involve them as best I can. I feel that exposing them to business and entrepreneurship at such a young age (12, 11, 8, 7, and 1) will support their ultimate success in what ever they choose to become.
I also have the support of my husband John. He appreciates how I can provide for our family and the work that I do makes a difference. I feel that he is proud of me and that is so important.
I am proud of the team we have selected and feel that is contributing to the momentum we are experiencing as a company. I can count on my team and feel very confident in their abilities.
Keeping a loving and winning relationship with my business partner and mother. We have been working as a team for more than 28 years. I feel we make a great team and work very well together. I would love to share more about the dynamics of this with you – as I know many mothers who always say they wish they could work with their daughters or daughters that say they wish they could work with their mothers. I know the desire is there – just the how to is yet to be realized.
What have been some of your major challenges?
Some of my major challenges is best described by a plate. Imagine a plate of opportunities and projects mine is piled high and hanging over the side. I have a great team of 30 people now working with me, some virtual and some in my home yet it seems like when I complete a project or delegate something I add another 2 projects in that 1 projects place.
So an overflow of opportunities are before me and which do I get to work on next best describes my challenges related to my work.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
This is a great question. The impossible days – do happen don’t they. What inspires me to keep going is when I look into the innocent faces of my children and say to myself – they are watching. They are watching and learning by my actions – not by my words. If I can keep going and moving forward in challenging times – they will see that example and my hope is they will keep moving forward and persevere over adversities they may face in life.
I also keep going for the people I work with. My team counts on me on a daily basis for direction, acknowledgment, and a company they can count on. As they are successful, we too are successful.
I also keep going for the people I get to serve. I love my clients and have a sense of respect and appreciation for each and every one of them. They are what make my work so enjoyable and I get to learn from them and they get to learn from me and my organization. I would love to introduce you to the women we serve, vibrant, can do thinkers, possibility makers, kind and loving, generous, compassionate, working on purpose, will to do what it takes within their values, and so much more. I work with some of the brightest people on the planet in my opinion.
Do you have a motivational quote?
Which one 🙂 I have motivational quotes surrounding me at all times. The one that stands out in my mind right now is Mother Teresa – There are more people in this world starving for love then for food.
That resonates with me so much because I truly do have a love and appreciation for people. It makes me feel good when I can share joy and gratitude with others, when I can express how important they are and how much they mean to me, when I can let them know there work matters and that they matter – I truly do love to love people.
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
I prioritize. I get my family activities and business activities in my calendar as quickly as possible. And then schedule myself accordingly. Example: when I know my children have a day off from school, I plan 1 – 2 work hours in the morning and the rest of the day is to share with them. If I have additional projects, I will rise earlier or go to bed a little later to make sure I get the projects completed.
If I am unable to take the entire day to share with my kids, I have a timer on my desk that I use that has made such a difference for me.
I will set the time for 30 minutes of work – where I will completely focus on work activities and then when the timer goes off – I am out of the office and reset the clock for another 30 minutes where I am completely focused on family activities. And I can go back and forth with that time frame or if necessary allow for bigger blocks of work time or bigger blocks of family time depending on what is on my plate.
I feel it is critical to feel good where you are at. I used to feel guilty for sharing time with my family and not working – or working too much and not sharing quality time with my family. Now I rid myself of that feeling and am present where I am without guilt.
There are an abundance of strategies that I have learned over the years that have made a difference in managing this very critical component of my home based business. We can chat more about this if you would like.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to your children about running a successful business, what would it be?
I have many pieces that I give my children… they can always count on a daily dose. 🙂
Serve with passion and gratitude.
Give more in value than you accept in payment.
Run a company that people can Trust and be a person that people can trust.
Respect your clients, team, and self.
Follow up and Follow through.
What you think about, you bring about. Feed your mind with positive thoughts and ask yourself inspiring questions that move you.
Be a person of Integrity.
Who you are is just right – maintain your authenticity.
Read, Write, Listen, and Talk Positive and Inspiring.
Be a steward of your money.
When you earn it, you appreciate it.
Live your purpose and make a difference.
Love others and love yourself.
Give your time and best to good and worthy causes.
And there is so much more
Do you have a favorite business tool and/or resource?
Timer – keeps me focused and timely.
Blackberry – I can now check my emails in my “spare moments” and clear the clutter emails when ever necessary.
Outlook – use it constantly for everything.
Skype – just getting into this tool and finding that it will be very useful to me for communication overseas and with others that utilize all of its bells and whistles.
What is next for your business?
We are in the process of licensing the rights to our company in multiple countries. We have already licensed it in Australia and New Zealand, now we are in negotiation for Canada as well as the US Spanish Speaking Market. This is a tremendous opportunity for us that we are very excited about.
We are also creating a Foundation for our organization. It will be a 501C3. And has such a beautiful mission and vision that are in alignment with our For Profit Association.
We are constantly in development of new and innovative products and programs to best serve our clients and we will continue to move in that direction.
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