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Chris Hadfield
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How to Run a Compassionate Company

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Question:\r\nWas it difficult starting out in business as a woman?

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Lynda\r\nResnick:            I\r\nstarted very small with retail stores. \r\nI couldn’t get a job at an advertising agency, which was what I wanted\r\nto do.  And I did a very successful\r\ncampaign for a store that was like a potpourri store that handled all sorts of\r\nfabulous home décor and gifts and things like that.  And it kind of made me overnight.  And I got a lot of referrals from that.  And then, I started my business.  It was called Lynda Limited.  That was a limited name, don’t you\r\nthink?  I have a much bigger vision\r\ntoday.  And it wasn’t so hard.  They were very grateful I was cheap or\r\ninexpensive.  And I produced.  And it really never got in my way until\r\nlater. 

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When\r\nI was in my early 20s, I went on a pitch to the International House of\r\nPancakes.  I went in and showed my\r\nportfolio, try to get the business, and the man said to me, “You have to leave\r\nnow.” 

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And\r\nI said, “Why?” 

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And\r\nhe said, “I can’t stand to see a woman you’re age doing this.  It’s ridiculous.  It makes me extremely\r\nuncomfortable.” 

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I\r\nsaid, “Okay.” 

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Of\r\ncourse, I went in the car and cried ‘cause there was nothing I could do about\r\nit. I am who I am.  But that was\r\nreally the only time that that happened. \r\nNow, throughout my life, things have happened certainly.  Even employees of mine, who find it\r\nuncomfortable to answer to a woman, throughout life but that’s, can’t stand the\r\nheat, you get out of the kitchen. \r\nIt’s nothing that… Believe me, the positive sides of being a woman in\r\nbusiness are far more important to my success, I think, than the negative\r\nsides.   

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Question:\r\nAre women more creative than men?

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Lynda\r\nResnick:            Women\r\nare good marketers because, as I say in my book, being a good marketer is like\r\nbeing a good friend.  A good friend\r\nlistens, anticipates your needs, gives you more than you thought you were\r\ngetting.  And women listen.  We were bred to listen ‘cause we raise\r\nour children and fathers do too but there’s a sensitivity that women have.  So, I think, that women make very good\r\nmarketers.  I know a lot of men\r\nthat are good at marketing as well but, I think, we have a special knack for\r\nit.  And I think I’m a good\r\nfriend.  If you interviewed my\r\nfriends, I think they would say I’m a good friend.  And I think that’s mainly a good marketer too. 

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Question:\r\nHow do you keep your workforce happy in a down economy?

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Lynda\r\nResnick:            We’re\r\nso lucky.  We’re doing very\r\nwell.  Because, I think, we… First\r\nof all, we sell food and people have to eat.  And also, the pistachio business is in 60 countries.  So that helps because there are a few\r\nplaces on the planet that are still doing okay.  Like, India’s a huge market for us but we’ve only have a 2%.\r\nWe have a big upside in China as well. \r\nWhen things are going well, people are happier.  When people feel as though they’re\r\nbeing heard they’re happier, when they’re part of the solution, they’re happier.  When they know the layoffs have already\r\ntaken place and their job is secure, that helps tremendously. 

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And\r\nwe have some fabulous geniuses that work for us. It’s just great.  Young, energetic people that are\r\npassionate about the brands, passionate about what we do… giving back, I think\r\nthat’s a big way that people are drawn to our company.  Because that’s a big part of who we are\r\nas a company.  We give every employee\r\na thousand dollars a year to give away to charity, as long as it’s a 501\r\nc(3).  We won’t pay for Uncle\r\nHarry’s hip replacement but we do… And we asked them if they can, to give it to\r\ntheir local community, to their local church or school. They know what’s going\r\nwrong in their community much more than we would where we sit.  And so, that’s exciting, you know.  And then, we match funds up to a\r\ncertain point and so forth.  So I\r\nthink people feel like they’re doing well by doing good. 

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Recorded\r\non: March 17, 2009

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Roll International Co-Chair Lynda Resnick on the challenges and opportunities for women in business.

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