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“…we were expected to get a “good” job with a “good” company and retire from there.”

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Kathy McShane is a New Canaan business women, community leader and entrepreneur who founded Kendrew Group, Ltd., an award-winning marketing and brand development agency that launched major campaigns for Visa, MasterCard, JP Morgan Chase, and HBO. After selling her company, Kathy took the role of Managing Director of Ladies Who Launch in Connecticut and tripled membership in just over a year and a half. She loves working with passionate and innovative women and helping them to achieve their dream of owning and running a business.

Ladies Who Launch is the go-to provider of valuable resources, tools, inspiration, and connections. The quality of their content, the breadth of their resources and the depth of their community make Ladies Who Launch an indispensable asset throughout the entrepreneur’s progress from concept to launch and into the first several years of operation.

Kathy McShane, Ladies Who Launch - Managing Director

MO: What attracted you to Ladies Who Launch and what changes have you implemented since taking the role Managing Director?

Kathy: When I closed my marketing business, I went on a journey to decide what I wanted to do next. I have always been a mentor to women and I thought that being a Life Coach would be great for me. I went to NYU and got a Certification in Coaching. Then I decided I was too action oriented and would be frustrated by the slow process of coaching. I then started to teach at NYU as an adjunct professor. I still teach there. I subsequently went to University of Pennsylvania and got a certification in Positive Psychology. I loved this and decided to run workshops in this field. A friend of mine told me that if I wanted to start a new business, I need to take an Incubator Workshop from Ladies Who Launch. I did and fell in love with the protocol and methodology. I just knew that these things coupled with my years of marketing experience would make a perfect fit and a wonderful benefit to women. I bought the franchise in July 2010.

MO: Where does your passion for entrepreneurship come from? Did you have any early mentors or inspirations that influenced your career path?

Kathy: I have always been an entrepreneur. I believe even before there was a formal term for entrepreneur. As a young woman, had you asked me, if I would ever have my own business, I would probably have said no. Like many young people then, we were expected to get a “good” job with a “good” company and retire from there. While I was in the corporate world, I found myself attracted to new brands. I was in product development. In retrospect, I believe I gravitated to this area because you need to be innovative and take risks. Once the brand was launched and got into main stream corporate I lost interest. I liked doing my own thing. My inspiration for starting my own business was the birth of my first son. I needed to work and wanted to work but did not want to be the rat race of a corporation. Therefore, I started my own business and never looked back.

MO: Why do you think that men and women launch and manage businesses differently? Do you believe that women have any particular entrepreneurial advantages over men?

Kathy: I believe it is based on genetics. Men and women are simply just different.Traits of male leaders are autonomy, independence, and competition, while those of women are relations, interdependence, and cooperation. Both have their advantages. Status and rank are important for men, whereas women are more comfortable working in a flat hierarchy. For men, business relationships are more competitive, and power is enhanced through control of information, which may be hoarded rather than shared. Women have larger social networks, for advice and resources, and relationships with other business women are more nurturing than competitive. I believe that the intuitive side of women gives them an advantage over men.

MO: Can you tell our readers why you think that the human spirit is the single most important element of success?

Kathy: Interesting many people believe that the human spirit and business are mutually exclusive. In fact, we know that companies driven by inspiration and positive thinking are more successful. I believe this is true in all companies’ not just entrepreneurial companies. Companies that embrace the value of the human spirit allow their employees to be more authentic. This cultivates an environment of creativity, flexibility, good communication and fluidity. In the end when people are happy to work in a particular environment, this translates directly into the bottom-line.

MO: You’ve helped over 150 women start their own business. Are there any specific success stories that you’d like to share?

Kathy: I have so many. Two that come to mind. One is of a young woman who left the hustle of the New York fashion design world. The name of her company is Connecticut Cookie Company. For years, she had baked cookies as a way to calm down after being in NYC. She makes these fabulous cookies with her grandmother’s vanilla. They are amazingly delicious. She now sells the cookies to A list celebrities. She even had Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe tweet about how great the cookers are. Another women is 50+, the name of her company is Decorator Tag Sale. When the recession hit she had a large inventory of household furnishings from very famous designers. She had been an interior designer and simply could not sell her furnishings. She started an on-line “tag” sale business where people can buy fabulous products at “tag” sale prices.

MO: Can you share some of innovative ideas you’ve had to reach possible entrepreneurs who are not on anyone’s radar? Where does your inspiration come from to empower women who are often overlooked and under supported?

Kathy: I have started a weekly “Chat with Kathy” teleconference. This is a way a woman, regardless of where they are in their business life cycle, can call and asks me questions. There is not charge for this. It has been tremendously successful. I am planning to introduce a training program for women who are getting ready to be released from prison. Additionally, I will be offering more workshops geared around helping women to develop a vision statement. I know if they can’t see themselves as being big they will never be big. My inspiration comes from having been a wife, a mother, a sister and a friend. I know how hard it is for women. They still tend to be the care givers which put a tremendous stress on them. Most feel so torn between family and work life. Most have no idea where to go to get advice on starting a business. Most feel selfish when they pursue something that they want. Most are uncomfortable negotiating. I really believe that women need a go-to place that can help them to sort these challenges out and that’s me.


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