ILCA Women’s Networking Group

Being true to yourself by sararexroat
April 20, 2010, 6:36 pm
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It seems doing what is right is not the same thing as doing what is easy.  I have recently made some rather life altering choices.  They have not been easy, but they have been the right choices for me.  I decided a few months ago that it was time for me to move on from the job I was holding.  That was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made; my co-workers were great, the job was with a growing company, and I didn’t have another job to move onto.  My job had become more and more focused as the company grew and I felt like I was becoming less not more.  I knew there was more out there that I wanted to be doing but couldn’t figure out how to do it at that company.  So with support from those closest to me and prayers for me from my parents, I decided to move on…move on to figuring things out for myself.

Figuring things out sounds fun and light and easy, but when one really tries to get to the core of things it is anything but fun and easy.  I have to budget my savings to make the most of them while I’m in this limbo.  I have to be true to what I want as I have been fortunate to have had several job opportunities, but none so far have been the right match.  It would be easier to just take one of these opportunities and hope it works out okay, but that is not why I set out on this path of uncertainty.  At times, this all feels so selfish and indulgent but being happy and, hopefully in the end, productive shouldn’t feel that way, should it?


GirlPOWER! by corumkeller
April 10, 2010, 3:52 pm
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By Christa Orum-Keller

This spring’s energy of the universe has placed some of the most powerful women I’ve ever met in my life’s path.  Intelligent, wise, thoughtful, connected with living things.  Connected to our warming soil.  And tuned in with the power of their femininity.  Not in that bright shining, hair-sprayed, overly-pink, fluffy kind of way.  In the strong, cultivating, present, witty, and courageous sort of way.

What did they have in common?  They all had their wits about them.  They live in the present yet consider the future.  They don’t let spring’s insanity get them flustered.  They aren’t afraid to say…

  • “We’ll make the best of it.”
  • “Let’s take one thing at a time.”
  • “We’ll get to that eventually.”

But above all, they take time to be good to themselves.  Women serve – their parents, their siblings, their families, their children, their employers, their employees, their communities, their churches, their soup pantries…and we give and give and give.  But these powerful women stop.  They stop and take time to regenerate, revive and review.  Whether the cup of tea, the decadent lunch, the time for a walk in the garden, seeking out spring wildflowers, a massage, a bit of yoga, or a cheerful visit with an old friend – they each take time to take care of themselves.

Feeling frazzled?  At your wit’s end?  Repeat those wise phrases above.  Live in the now.  And feel great about making a choice to be good to you.  It will pay enormous dividends when we arrive at the scorching sizzling spring culmination into summer.

Social Media Marketing aka “Fun in the Blogosphere” by Terre Houte
March 31, 2010, 12:16 pm
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by Terrè Houte

Who says it’s crazy to delve into a new marketing experience during the spring rush? Marketing is not for sissies!  (I once heard someone around here say “go big or go home!”)

The goal this month was to get organized and get going! 

Here is a snapshot of what’s been going on: 


  • met with our two expert firms (see Feb blog post) to determine our direction and determine goals (see below)
  • started building actual timelines encompassing the upgrade of the website and the blog design/content
  • began discussions on a project guide
  • began development of a “publishing calendar”.
  • began an inventory of existing creative archives to decide what to reuse
  • started creating a blog marketing plan 

Our goals:

  • inform and persuade
  • pre-qualify prospects
  • drive traffic with SEO (search engine optimization)
  • collect visitor email to build database

 Our timeframe:

  • April 14th preliminary publishing guide
  • May 1st design concepts presentation
  • June 1st LAUNCH

 I’ll keep you POSTED! (NO pun intended, well maybe)

Value Not Price by corumkeller
March 19, 2010, 8:15 pm
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by Christa Orum-Keller

“The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.”            —Adam Smith

This is such an interesting time to those of us who have ever studied economics.  It is too easy, to say that ‘price’ is what is driving our decisions.  It’s not really price, it’s our customers’ new stronger focus on measuring Value.

Every single one of us is focused on ‘getting a better deal’ – but think harder.  Aren’t we really focused on getting something we strongly value?  As budgets shrink, the value equation becomes more important.

What’s neat about that is that we cannot use price as an excuse for declining revenue.  What’s difficult about that is, we have to be better communicators to learn from our customers and discover just what it is they value, and then align oursleves with customers who value what we excel at.  The sites have shifted and we must adjust.  What’s really interesting, if you can spend a few minutes looking at facts and figures, is to observe the areas where your sales might be increasing.

At ILCA, it’s remarkable to note how many new members there are!  There may be many reasons for this growth, but in the end, our newest members must recognize the Value of ILCA membership.  If you haven’t recently read what ILCA pledges to its members, you may find it interseting to review:

  • To serve as a forum for the free exchange of ideas among landscape contractors and their suppliers.
  • To carry out a broad-scale program of practical instruction for those engaged in landscaping, through special programs, meetings and publications.
  • To create a greater degree of public appreciation for the landscaping profession in Illinois and for those for whom it is a livelihood.
  • To encourage a high code of professional ethics as well as quality workmanship among landscape contractors.
  • To support legislation which is beneficial to landscape contractors and the general public, and to oppose that which is not.
  • To work for a greener, more beautiful Illinois.

For those of us who have been members for many years, let us not lose site of the Value of ILCA to our organizations.  We are a community made stronger by and with each other.

“Friendship is essentially a partnership.”      — Aristotle (4th century B.C.)

Chicago Flower and Garden Show 2010 by ldedmc06
March 10, 2010, 5:04 pm
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Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the 2010 Chicago Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier. I am embarrassed to say that this is the first time I was ever at the show! The ILCA Women’s Networking Group sponsored a 1 1/2 hour private tour before the show opened to the general public. What an awesome way to see the show. We were able to go up the stairs and view the gardens from above and were given info on details that we may not have been privey to without the tour. Just walking in to the Show, you could smell Spring. Not to mention being in awe of the colors in the flowers, the accessories, the themed gardens, OMG (Oh My Gosh-in text language)…I was blown away. It just really made me feel that the Spring season is just around the corner. That REAL soon we will be in the throws of our BUSY time. That our own yards, our clients yards, our clients clients yards, will be as wonderfully colorful as what I just witnessed at the show. That is enough to keep me going, especially as I look out the window today at a dreary, foggy, ugly Wednesday. HURRY UP SPRING…

Social Media Marketing – Tip of the Iceberg? by Terre Houte
February 24, 2010, 1:56 pm
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by Terrè Houte

 When I agreed to speak about our company’s journey to become “social media savvy marketers” at this year’s Mid-Am Mid-Winter Conference, I had no idea that I knew just the tip of a huge and growing iceberg! The title of the talk was “Wow ‘em with Your Web Presence: The Grassroots of Effectively Marketing Your Business Online”.

 While researching the topic, I discovered a vast, quickly growing amount of information. I was teamed up with a professional, Keidra Chaney,, who helped me understand the basics and gave me the true scope of what was ahead.  

 We have contracted with a talented pair of experts to guide us through the blogoshere. Barb Rozgonyi of CoryWest Media LLC, (contact:, who gave us an excellent start with our branding strategy five years ago. She is the founder of Chicago Social Media Club and featured on the cover of the October 2009 SOHO Magazine as “Chicago Social Media Maven”. Check out her blog at .  Also, Dave Prickett of Karnes Prickett Design, who has given us our signature look for the past five years.

 Barb will help us strategize and implement our blog/newsletter, while Dave will design it to maintain consistency with our brand. SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the goals of this project.

Watch for my posts and join with me as we embark on a new direction in marketing! This is not for the faint of heart! Hold onto your hat! It’s going to be a wild ride!

Who’s Your Hero? by corumkeller
February 19, 2010, 3:36 am
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by Christa Orum-Keller

Wednesday morning this week, ILCA board members were invited as guests, to sample the leadership experience which participants of the ILCA Leadership Council share through their involvement in that program.  Learn more about the Leadership Council here:

The program we sampled, was one about leading in lean times.  Just as valuable as the content the speaker presented, was the conversation, questions and discussion in the small groups and during the breaks.  It is clear; we need each other, as vendors, customers, friends as colleagues to get through these times.

Some of the important points I took away from the morning included:

  1. Knowing your core values is the foundation for all you do.  If the core values aren’t clear, everything else will be muddy too.  Clarity about one’s core values = clarity in decisions and actions.
  2. Everyone in the room is facing the same business challenges in some fashion or other.  We are not alone.  We are all looking to do more with less, seeking ways to fight our way back to become profitable, having to make some of the toughest decisions in our lives – and amidst it all we all need help keeping ourselves charged up, hopeful and positive.
  3. As business leaders we have to carefully balance the immediate demands of today, that is our very survival, with the bigger picture strategies for the future so we can thrive and grow again.  Today this balance is more important than ever.
  4. Every little thing counts; every second counts – and every decision you make about what to do with and in that moment counts.  Make the most of it.

Early in the presentation there was a reference to personal heros.  When I considered who my heros were I thought immediately about people like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, but I didn’t feel my answer was complete – it just didn’t feel like I had fully answered that question.  After the session, I talked with a fellow ILCA member about this conundrum and as we stood at the top of the room, she said that her heros are everyday heros – they are the people she works with and recreates with.  My eyes scanned the room and I had my answer.

Right there, in that room, these hard working, kind, thoughtful, caring, diligent ILCA people are my heros.  The inspiration and hope I walked away with had come from them more than it would from anyone else.  We need each other – and we need the heroic inspiration we can provide for each other in challenging times.  Yes indeed, we need each other.