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The New Power Girls: Women in Business Talk Shop About Innovation, Learning, and Experimenting

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It was a quiet weekend at my house the day I launched my first startup, Stylediary.net. I had kicked around the idea of creating a digital media property for a year or so before that afternoon in 2004, when armed with a free "Host your own website" service from then-independent iVillage.com (NBC later bought it) I launched what became the first media outlet to focus solely on what real people -- not models -- were wearing. It was new and innovative, and has since sparked a trend in the market that can be seen in dozens of print and online media companies to this day. I sold Stylediary three years later. Whenever people ask me, "How did you get the idea for the site?" the answer is easy: I learned what was missing, and what people wished might exist. Then, I created it.

I've relied on learning to stay ahead ever since. Learning, innovation and experimenting go hand in hand. Today's article is all about that. There is no better people to tap on the subject than the women entrepreneurs and executives I've met and know. They are some of the most innovative learners and experimenters I've met.

My first stop was the incredible Jessica Igoe, Director of Global Sponsorship Marketing at American Express. Jessica's the force behind some of AMEX's most innovative ideas and projects, including leveraging fashion, film and technology to create new and exciting experiences for their customers. It's a case study for business owners everywhere -- much of what Jessica has brought to the company are strategies and mindsets that anybody can incorporate -- whether you're heading up a company of your own, launching a new one, or trying to take a project to the next level.

"It starts with being manically focused on your customer," Jessica shared via email this past week. "I am always thinking about ways that I can help deliver a new perspective on the things our Cardmembers are most passionate about in film, fashion or tennis."

And that she does. In the past few years, AMEX has done incredible things under Jessica's charge, from leveraging social media to include remote customers in major events, to partnering with amazing organizations like USTA, Tribeca Film Festival, and IMG fashion.

"We are really focused on the "why" behind what we are doing. Why does our strategy make sense? Why would Cardmembers be interested in the experiences we are creating?" she added. "Staying consistently curious about your business enables you to ask questions that will uncover new ideas."

Asking questions and uncovering new ideas is something Smarty LA founder Amy Swift was born to do -- and has since passed on to dozens (and dozens) of women through her Los Angeles-based organization. Amy hosts events, workshops and other get-togethers designed to spark innovation, growth and learning for women-owned businesses, attracting incredible founders and speakers like to learn and teach together. If you're in the city, Smarty's next event will be on celebrity endorsements, and innovative ways to leverage it with your brand.

For New Power Girls co-founder Meghan Cleary, experimentation and learning have been a major part of her brand. She was one of the first fashion experts to take a 360 degree marketing approach leveraging social media, publishing and television. LiveloveshopLA founder Barbra Night leveraged more than twenty years of retail, lifestyle and beauty connections to create a new innovative new multi-platform project that'll help drive her business in fresh -- and exciting -- new directions.

Power Girls know that innovation, learning and experimenting go hand in hand with success.

How to do it in your own business? Focus on what your customers want first, learn as much as you can, experiment and most of all -- don't be afraid to innovate. Like all of the women above show, it can pay off in more ways you an imagine!

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