For over three decades now, the month of March has officially been dedicated to Women’s History Month, where we cherish and celebrate the many contributions women have made in culture, society, and the business world. The culmination is International Women’s Day, which was celebrated this month on March 8. The theme of that day was “Choose to Challenge”, a call for all of society to speak up for women’s rights and promote gender equality.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we sat down to interview Liane Caruso, Celebree School’s Chief Marketing Officer. Here’s what she had to say to our six questions on what it means to be a successful woman in business!
- What does being a woman in business mean to you?
“Being a woman in business means to me…strength, confidence, empowerment. But for a long time, it meant Imposter. I didn’t feel like I ever had a seat at the table and that I wasn’t necessarily taken seriously. Because I’m in franchising and because I’m in digital marketing, I’m very often in meetings where I’m the only female. I’ve been in many situations where I wasn’t taken seriously and where I knew I wouldn’t have a path for growth. I’ve also been in meetings with clients where they asked for my input and then asked the male CEO, who told them the same thing. But it was only then that they heard and believed it. It’s degrading, it’s sad and it’s very frustrating. It’s likely unavoidable in some situations because you simply can’t fix people. But, with confidence and clarity, I finally feel like I do have a seat at the table. And I love that feeling! But I’d have to say that my most favorite part about being a woman leader in business is the ability to find other young women who have that “spark” and that drive. I put forth a real effort to support, mentor and nurture them in a way that I never experienced. I love giving them the space to grow, and learn, and make mistakes, and find the attributes that make them shine. Being a woman in business has given me that special leadership opportunity in my journey and that’s exactly where I find my joy in this business.”
- What do you want your children to learn while growing up with a strong mother who owns her own business?
“I started my own business in 2009 when my first son was only three months old. Like all good franchisees, I have an entrepreneur mindset, so I rarely “shut down”. While I’m forced to find a balance (and I really am getting better at it), I love that my kids can physically see what hard work means to me and for us. They’ve seen my companies grow, they’ve met my employees, they’ve seen me “on TV” and I know they’re very proud of me as my biggest supporters. And, while my children are my greatest achievement, my personal and professional growth is something that I’m extremely proud of demonstrating. I hope to instill the value of discipline, a strong work ethic, how to be a leader, how to surround yourself with smart people, how to be humble, how to make mistakes now and then, and how to grow and learn from them.”
- Tell us a little about the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) Women’s Franchise Network and your involvement with the Women’s Franchise Committee (WFC)
“I was excited to join the WFC in 2019, as I wanted to become more involved with the IFA and be connected to more impactful women in franchising. I was graciously awarded a limited opportunity spot and proudly lead the Podcast Committee. Last year, we launched a podcast called Her Success: The Stories of Female Franchise Leaders. We interview women in our industry who’ve made it to the top but have certainly had an interesting journey along the way. They all have a great story to tell. I’m very proud to lead this committee and produce these stories, so that we can all be inspired and empowered by these impressive women. I’m also very involved in my local Tampa Chapter of the Women’s Franchise Network.”
- How long you’ve been in the franchise world?
“I started working with an agency in 2012 that was working with a few franchise brands. I immediately connected with the challenge of franchising and don’t ever plan to leave it!”
- How can other women get involved in franchising and what groups are out there to support this effort?
First thing I recommend is to find the local Women’s Franchise Network chapter in your area. Luckily, many of them have gone virtual, so you can participate without having to be in your particular area and expand your network. There are Women in Franchising publications, podcasts, and events that you can find, if you search on LinkedIn. While franchising is a very large industry, the people and the connections actually make it feel like a small community. The franchising world is very supportive of one another, especially women supporting other women.”
- Favorite quote or words of wisdom for women in the franchise world?
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” —Michelle Obama, Becoming