What Is Right In This World

Written on behalf of the PlushMoney Impact program by Neha Kumar

Many people have found Starbucks to be their office. I go to Disneyland. I have an area I like right at the end of Main Street on the left hand side. There are colored canopies and a raised section with some tables. You are not in the midst of traffic but close enough to see and feel the excitement of what is going on. Not too far away is a Disney style piano where throughout the day I can hear the melodious songs that remind me of what is right in the world.

This is where I work. This is where I write and come up with some of my best ideas. I can sit there all day with my iPad set-up and my Bluetooth-enabled keyboard. Disneyland really is a magical place. What makes it so? Everyone there is so happy. Most of them are on vacation. Some people have saved up for a long time to come here with their families and friends. It is a place where people can be who they want to be. It is a place where people are told to dream and to believe. There are a few street sweepers who know me on a first name basis. They will come by and tell me the coffee flavor of the day at the coffee shop on Main Street. They will watch my things when I got to the restroom or grab some food. They have a created a small community there for me.

Twice a day a parade will go by and with the elevated position of the tables I end up with a great view. I always offer to share my space during the parade. Even though the parents immensely thank me for allowing them to have prime seating, I want to say thank you to them. Their excitement and energy is my fuel. It reminds me of how we are all a part of the same world. It’s not about mine or yours but ours.

This summer we have collectively created a community of young motivated women: PlushMONEY Impact. What everyone is doing together is amazing, but the best part is how they are doing it.  We started off with nothing. There was no structure, the girls didn’t know each other, and it’s summer time. Everyone has their own jobs, school, things going on in life, etc., yet somehow they have all come together in such a short time and created a community. We now have webinars once a week and since everything is done virtually they haven’t even all met in person. Still, there is a sense of sharing and excitement. I have never seen something like this created so fast.

When I started this program I was a bit nervous and scared. How could I get these girls together to create a community where they would want to work together and help each other? Honestly, I have no idea how it all happened. They are so full of zest and ambition and at the same time work with such integrity. I hope that by the end of this program we can figure out what it is that we did to create something so great. If this could be replicated at work, groups, and in other communities I can only imagine the immense impact it could have on so many peoples’ lives.

Even though I created this program to help them in leadership, personal finance and various other areas in business, I want to say thank you to them. The mere thought of them and their energy is my fuel.  Their stories and eagerness are what is right in the world.


Learning Something New Everyday

Written on behalf of the PlushMoney Impact program by Niki Cyrus

There has been a few words bouncing around ever since PlushMoney Impact has started. Leadership, community and safe space. I never thought I would learn this much in a short period of time. My grandfather was a professor at University of Tehran, he once told me when I was 5 years old that he will forever be a student and learns something new everyday. I am learning so many new things from PlushMoney Impact community that is MIND BLOWING! I want to share these random thoughts that I’ve been having at night before I fall asleep.

There is a difference between just simply leading a group of people and creating desired action by choice. Until maybe 10 minutes ago I didn’t understand the difference. Getting people excited is a challenge! excitement is what that creates desired action and creativity. There is no equation or certain rules of leadership that people need to learn. Not something that you can learn by reading a book. You learn it through that moment that you created action and excitement in someone without demanding anything or setting a deadline. There may many entrepreneur around the world that are never discovered because of wrong leadership skills.

I had an amazing experience during the 4th week of our program. I learned that in life there is no making mistake without consequences. If I don’t study for a test, then I could fail. If I don’t show up to work, I’m fired. There is not that much room for messing up and making a mistake in the real world. However, I am lucky enough to be part of this community of amazing girls that would help me better myself. To me PlushMoney Impact is my safe space. I know I could make a mistake without any harsh consequence.

The Art of the Presentation

Written on behalf of the PlushMoney Impact program by Maree Bandrowczak

Last week, my father, the VP of Avaya Data Solutions came to speak to our community about the art of giving presentations. He has always been a very charismatic guy, and as a kid, I would always see him slap a presentation together 30 minutes or so before going on stage and presenting like a rock star. He had 20+ years’ experience; I had none, but we were related, so I should have the gift of the gab, right?

Well, you can only imagine what happened, when in the 7th grade I started researching for my presentation on the French Revolution an hour before it was due. I think the only thing I was successfully able to relay to the class was that the revolution took place in …France.  That was pretty embarrassing, but the next day a 6th grader spent the entire snack-time with toilet hanging out of her pants, so I was off the hook. But I did learn two valuable lessons that day. Lesson one: practice your presentation. Lesson two: kids are mean (but so are adults, so see lesson one)

All of the girls in our community are extremely busy.  trying to balance the weekly demands of this program with internships (at Goldman Sachs, AT&T, Merrill Lynch, Ernst & Young, Nordstrom, just to name a few), and a personal life, so we are all about stretching our valuable resources.  Work smarter, not harder is the motto that we have come to adopt.

In keeping with this motto, Steve came and spoke with us about the systematic approach he takes to giving presentations, which I will share with you here. These are his awesome tips, but the 75% of you all who are skimming will credit them to me, which I’m personally okay with.

Tip 1: Presentations have a beginning, middle, and an end, like a book. Start off by telling your audience exactly what they are in for, better yet, build a slide to go along with this, so that people will get excited about your topic and be ready for what they are about to hear. Then, detail everything that was on your agenda, and keep the story rolling, don’t diverge too much because people will get confused. When you are speaking, it’s often hard for people to make the jump from point A to point B on their own, so lay it out for them. Lastly, conclude by reiterating the point of your presentation, you want it to stick.  

Tip 2: Establish your credibility up front: why should people listen to you for the next thirty minutes, when they could be taking a refreshing afternoon nap? If you are talking about cats, and you happen to have 10 of them, the first couple of minutes are probably where you want to share this little tid- bit. Yeah, your audience will now think you’re crazy, but at least they’ll believe you, when you say that cats actually have 10 lives.

If you don’t have a ton of experience in the topic you are talking about, then you can also establish this credibility by proving yourself as an expert in the area. If your presentation is on Bill Gates, but his invitations keep getting lost in the mail, then you can start off with some unique facts about him, that hopefully no one else in the room knows. Now your audience is willing to listen to you. Please don’t start off with Bill is the founder of Microsoft, unless you are presenting to five-year olds, in which case it’s probably best to establish your credibility through candy.

Tip 3: Know your audience. If you’re asked to give a presentation on cars to a group of engineers, and then asked to give that same presentation to the sales department, you need to make some modifications. Your engineers are going to want to know what the engine looks like, but your sales people are going to want to know one thing: how fast can this go?

The same advice holds for all different demographics. Last week, my dad asked our group of 20-year-old girls what John F. Kennedy was known for. He got two responses: women and blank stares.  He probably should have kept his audience in mind and choose a more modern example.

Tip 4: Keep the energy up! A lot of people present from behind a podium. If the speaker can barely stay awake during his own presentation, I’m surely not. If you need to do a song and dance up there in order to keep your audience engaged, it must be done. I once interned for a company where the CEO would get up in front of the entire office, yell, jump up and down, and just make a fool of himself on a weekly business. Everyone loved it! and he always got his point across. Your first job, as a presenter, is to keep your audience awake.

Tip 5: Tell a story. The easiest way to relate to your audience is through a story: it keeps people interested and they will have an easier time remembering a story and then relating it to one of your point,  than simply a  list of facts.  

Tip 6: Your slides are only 30% of your presentation. No one is going to walk out of the room impressed by your slides. They came there to hear you speak, not read.