Sunday, May 20, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 15th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 50 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 17, Issue 50

Hobnobbing with Helen: Santa Maria Women's Network attracts a crowd


The Santa Maria Women’s Network hit a home run with its February lunch meeting.

They invited Los Angeles-based motivational speaker and speech coach Mimi Donaldson to return for her third local appearance.

I heard her two years ago when, at a Women’s Network luncheon, she talked about how men and women differ in their self-evaluation of their qualifications for jobs. Men, as you might expect, are more self-forgiving of their weak spots.

Mimi’s remarks stayed with me and resonate frequently in the back of my mind, especially when I am hesitant about dipping my toe in a new pond and trying something different.

So it was with delightful expectations that I went to the Women Network’s regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Santa Maria Country Club, to see what pearls of wisdom I could take home.

Martha Beckham and Jessica Porhola serve themselves salad at the Women’s Network meeting at the Santa Maria County Club. Both work in real estate.

Mimi’s talk was titled, Pitch Perfect: Speak to Grow Your Business in Seven Simple Steps, and attracted 75 members, guests, and walk-ins. 

An interesting tidbit: The average monthly meeting attendance—always on the first Wednesday of the month—is around 40, according to board member April Sargeant. Mimi was a drawing card. 

A quick explanation: “pitch” has several different meanings. In a business context, it means an attempt to promote yourself and/or your business and/or your ideas. Being able to deliver an effective pitch is obviously very helpful.

Mimi’s message was that to be your own best spokesperson, you need to wax enthusiastic about your business, job, or services, and be prepared to answer the question, “So, what do you do?” with a pitch-perfect reply.

Mimi suggested being creative about the response and being surefooted about how you feel about what you do for a living. 

The Women’s Network did a full court press on publicity for this event. Rhoda Garietz, chief deputy city clerk, and Beth Cleary, deputy city clerk, were two who responded to the email blitz.

Suzanne Singh, newly appointed economic development director of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, made her debut Women’s Network appearance at this meeting. We hope to see more of her.

Jody Radford, left, and Mimi Donaldson, right, at a Women’s Network meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Santa Maria County Club. Radford is president of the group, and Donaldson was the speaker for the program.

Members who couldn’t stay away were immediate past President Amy Curti, past President Michelle Shipman, current President Jody Radford, and Director of Programs Erika Weber.

Other members on board for this laugh-filled event were Clarissa Nagy and Mary Hernandez

We missed seeing members like attorney Kristine Mollenkopf and Sandra Dickerson, co-owner of Your People Professionals. Those dynamos had other places to be. But, not to worry. They will surely turn up at the Women of Excellence awards dinner on Wednesday evening, March 1, at the country club. Sandra is chairwoman this year, so surprises may be in store.

More about Mimi: Before launching her speech coaching business, she worked in human resources for large corporations. She is an engaging speaker who elicits peals of laughter. A petite, stylish woman exuding L.A. energy, Mimi has a knack for connecting with the audience. 

She has written several books and is the co-author of Negotiating for Dummies. Now there’s a book on my must-read list!

Keep all this in mind, in case she is invited back.

The Santa Maria Women’s Network meets on the first Wednesday of every month (with rare exceptions). Lunch is $25. For additional info, check out the very nicely done website,

If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at

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