In today’s rough economy, it’s tough to open a new business with confidence. However, according to Darcie Harris, CEO of Executive Women’s Forum International, twice as many women than men are doing just that – opening their own ventures with confidence.
Many of these women find themselves in new leadership positions wanting advice and support – Darcie’s specialty. She offers a unique environment where a female-only group can trade business ideas, swap solutions to problems and give each other advice in the uncertain times of today’s business world. She wants to empower women and see them succeed. And she’s willing to go as far as Rwanda to spread her gospel.
When Denise Dixon-Rund took over as President of Oklahoma City Abstract & Title Company, she was ready, but needed experience in some new areas, so she partnered with Darcie. Denise started as a fourth-generation member of the family’s Edmond based company in 1986 and worked her way through every department. She understood how her business ran, but she needed perspective.
“It took me a long time to realize that you have to earn trust when you’re in this position. While things were going very well in the company and we were meeting all of our deadlines, I just felt at a deeper level that I lacked in a lot of areas. I needed to learn about management, leadership and vision.”
“The inspiration for EWFI,” says Darcie “was seeing the need for women business owners to have a place where they could talk openly and confidentially about the issues and the decisions they have to make everyday. There really is truth to that old cliché that it’s lonely at the top. There are very few opportunities where they can actually talk about the real life situations they encounter.”
Darcie feels that women are more comfortable opening up about business issues with other women. While she’s working with them in groups, they feel like they don’t have to know everything. “There are groups like this that work with men, as well. I just chose to focus on women because that’s a particular area of interest for me,” says Darcie.
Since partnering with Darcie, Denise now runs her company successfully and confidently. “She’s been one of my mentors and it’s meant a lot to me over the years. I’ve been with her seven years. Through her teachings and the forum I was able to understand leadership at a deeper level. She helped me put together all these pieces of a big puzzle. It was through attending those forums every month that I gathered so much knowledge. I owe a lot directly to her teachings.”
The popularity of EWFI’s mission has grown to the level at which Darcie now considers herself a franchiser. There are EWFI offices in Tulsa and Denver and Harris has future plans for opening more offices around the US. In addition, her web site offers online resources for business owners.
Under the auspices of the Institute for Economic Empowerment for Women – a consulting firm based in Oklahoma City – Darcie recently traveled to Rwanda to spread her gospel. Not only is she proving that women everywhere need help. She’s proving that there are no boundaries for helping women in the tough, competitive world of business.
For more information on EWFI and to see Darcie’s online resources, visit www.ewfinternational.com.