Always a leader on and off the playground, Shelly Berman-Rubera took charge of her own destiny and channeled her passion for dance and athletics into a profitable career. She opened her own dance school called Shelly's Disco Dance School in the 1970s, which later morphed into Shelly's School of Dance. Though no longer in existence, at the time the school offered a variety of dance classes ranging from disco to ballet. After the establishment folded, Shelly remained in the athletic arena and became a certified lifestyle weight management consultant and opened a personal training company which she ran for 23 years. In her 59 years, she has opened and operated four different business enterprises.
Today, she owns Small Business Results, a business development company. As the owner, Shelly is fully aware of the isolated, suffocated, and overworked culture she is dealing with. "People are overwhelmed by the amount they have to accomplish in a day, let alone a week," she says. The need for relief from the daily grind is what keeps Shelly motivated as a business coach. Her business offers a variety of tools and services for female professionals. Some of these programs include business consulting, engaging presentations, and events that foster the interaction between clients and employees in a workshop environment.
She's always been a leader, she says. For three years she held the chair position with the Women in Networking Committee out of the Newton-Needam Chamber. After her term was up, she felt it was time to move on. "That's when I was asked to be the president of Women in Business Connections," she said. With over 20 years in entrepreneurial experience and having opened four of her own businesses, Shelly was the perfect candidate.
The WIBC is a small Metro-based business network that holds the entirety of their events at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, MA. Though they only host six networking events a year, it allows the leaders the flexibility to offer a variety of speakers at their functions as well as provide a sophisticated luncheon for their members. "The goal is to really provide women with an opportunity for a demarcation in their week," Shelly said.
Women In Business Connections offers an inclusive environment for networking and exists to facilitate learning and model proper leadership skills. The group encourages women to share their experiences and cultivate their enthusiasm for business by actively participating in the network.
The economy is Shelly's greatest concern. With time restraints and less spending money, she fears that the model which women business associations are following may not be the most effective. "I believe the model is changing," Shelly said. "I've pulled together a meeting of three other women leaders like myself. They are tenacious, think out of the box, are charismatic, smart, they love people, and are connectors—I've called a meeting for the four of us to talk about the future of these associations." "Perhaps a membership model is an old model," she said. Shelly is also asking herself the following questions: Are the speakers good quality? Are the events worth taking time off of work? Do individuals really have the time to volunteer on boards when they are so strapped with what they have to do for themselves? These are questions Shelly feels all business networks should be asking themselves in order to serve their membership more effectively.
Her greatest reward has been seeing women who are afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone take a risk by coming to a meeting where they enter into an ambiance that is welcoming, forgiving, and educational. "Opening doors and opportunities for people who aren't always outgoing [is rewarding]," she says.
Shelly seems to balance it all. She's a competitive athlete, a wife, and a mother of two children. Her programs and presentations have assisted many well-known companies and industries and her involvement in Women In Business Connections has allowed her the opportunity to instill great learning in an effort to help businesses and the intelligent women who run them.
"I believe it is very important what you become known for," Shelly mentioned in an email correspondence. That being said, she encourages women to get involved. Don't just talk about your expertise, she says, show it. In other words, don't just talk the talk—walk the walk. "Find a place that you are passionate about and serve," she said. "It comes back 1,000 percent."
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