Recently I participated in the I Am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless (thanks Gresham!) I am CEO is a short podcast that features and provides information for CEOs, entrepreneurs, startups, and business owners. Gresham is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners.
Gresham asked me why I started Little Falls Mediation (LFM) and asked me to describe what services I provide. He asked what makes LFM unique. He also asked me what one favorite resource or life/business hack has helped me as a CEO. He asked if I have a golden nugget to share with other entrepreneurs and business owners. Last, he asked what being a CEO means to me. Here are some of my responses to his questions:
I started LFM because friends of friends and acquaintances were asking me to help them with their family issues, such as how to go about separating and divorcing, and I was referring them to lawyers and other mediators because I didn't have my own business. I was a lawyer/mediator handling court referred cases in D.C. Courts. At first it didn't occur to me to start my own business. I didn't think of myself as an entrepreneur. After Northern Virginia magazine ran a cover story on divorce that mentioned mediation and praised my work as a mediator from a happy client, I started getting calls from people I didn't know seeking my services. The funny thing is I had no idea that the magazine was publishing a story and that my client was talking to a reporter about mediation until after the issue was on the newsstands.
My unique selling point is rapid response and kindness. It's really important to me to create an atmosphere that is warm and welcoming to clients. When people call me, they are under great stress. Divorce, death, illness, and unemployment are very difficult. So when clients reach out to me, I get back to them right away and I listen attentively to what they have to say. Everyone wants the opportunity to be heard. Mediators are trained to acknowledge emotion but lawyers are not. So if a client is really upset, I don't ignore the emotion.
My favorite resource is Awesome Women Entrepreneurs, formerly known as Arlington Women Entrepreneurs, my networking group headed by Karen Beauregard Bate and Evelyn Powers. We socialize, network, and support one another in members' homes or local businesses. My golden nugget is to mentor others and to find a mentor. Collaboration is key. I love to work with and learn from other lawyers and mediators. I also wish I had taken a personal finance class in college. Finance classes were not offered in law school!
Last, being a CEO to me means I work really hard all the time and I also get to have lots of flexibility, autonomy, creativity, and freedom. Listen here to the podcast:
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Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.