Put yourself in the orthopedic shoes of a frontline worker in the midst of this crisis.
Imagine you’re a young hospital staffer, supporting a team of other frontline workers through something no one has experienced before. On top of the physical and mental demands of a regular day in the ER, now you have to handle the mental and emotional load of an ongoing pandemic, figure out how to keep your team safe with dwindling PPE, and support the emotional needs of a group of people pushed past their mental endurance.
When it’s your job to support the rest of the team, where can you turn for support of your own?
This is where Kathryn Rose, Caroline Webb, and the wiseHer team step in.
wiseHer, a coaching and consulting platform that connects women with the resources they need to succeed in business and their careers, united with a network of experts to offer free emotional and professional support to frontline workers. The new program, called FrontlineHelp, is hosted through the wiseHer platform: frontline workers can connect to experts and lighten the emotional load associated with their work within the pandemic.
Workers can participate in the program by signing up for a free subscription to Rose’s advisory platform, wiseHer.
The idea for wiseHer began in 2008, when Rose found herself laid off from her Wall Street job, eight and a half months pregnant with her first child and taking care of her mother, who had just suffered a brain aneurysm that left her paraplegic. Rose reached out to Wall Street clients to find new sources of income, and discovered that their biggest need was online marketing–a field Rose herself had no experience in.
Researching the basics of SEO and digital marketing, Rose found herself at an immediate dead end.
“I didn’t have anyone to help me,” she says. “I had no network. And when I started looking online, everyone I researched wanted me to buy their book or sign up for their online course. I thought, ‘I’m pretty smart, I just need someone to SHOW me!'”
Over the next decade, she built and sold a successful consulting business, then returned to corporate life running sales for a technology company. In this role, she learned how technology can be used to scale a business, how to work with developers, and how to use everything she’d learned to fulfill a longtime dream–to serve other women in business.
“They were the ones giving me my first breaks, attending my first seminars, buying my books,” Rose says. “But when I looked at these businesses, they just didn’t have the budget to hire me as a consultant.”
“Working in the corporate world again gave me the opportunity to start thinking about the challenges women face in business,” she adds. “There were a lot of conversations surrounding this in 2016. Even though it was ten years later, the same statistics applied: of 13 million women-owned small businesses, 90% are solopreneurs and 88% earn under $100,000 in revenue. I looked back at what moved my business forward, and it always involved connecting with the right people, paying for their time, and getting really good advice.”
Rose has benefited from mentorship in the past, but what she finds more important is “practical/tactical” advice.
“Don’t tell me what I should do, tell me how to do it,” she says.
This concept became the basis for wiseHer.
“We do have mentors on the platform to talk about things like work-life balance and more general topics,” Rose explains. “But what we see more often are the specific questions: ‘What keywords do I include on my website?’ ‘How do I write this email?’ ‘Does my resume look okay?’”
Furthermore, wiseHer offers support to the people on the other end of the conference call. Through “low bono” payment plans, those looking for advice pay a nominal fee for a half-hour or hour-long call. Advisors are paid for their time, or can choose to donate their fees to charity, instead.
“Women are always the first ones to step up for free, and I’m tired of that,” says Rose. “It’s not wrong to get paid.”
Through the advisory platform, wiseHer offers support for the four main challenges that women face in business: access, bridging the confidence gap, handling an intense cognitive or mental load, and finding funding.
“Women don’t typically have a deep bench of advisors,” says Rose. “So, having access to a group of qualified, vetted advisors is huge. You know, I could go on Facebook today and ask, ‘Does anyone know anything about SEO?’ and I’d get a ton of responses from supposed ‘experts.’ But how do I know that person didn’t just open their doors yesterday, right? How do I make sure that person’s qualified to help me?”
The platform combats low self-confidence by offering educational resources that give women business owners a leg up on the competition.
“Either a real or perceived gap in education can keep women paralyzed, not able to make decisions or feel confident in those decisions,” Rose says. “To address that, we have tons of content articles, and we’re rolling out educational videos. We also address that confidence gap in vetting our experts. The experts understand the market they’re communicating to. We don’t want a bunch of ‘should-ers’. We want people to offer tips and advice, not just say what they ‘should’ do.”
In terms of the mental load, Rose sums up the uneven pressure on women with more common statistics.
“Studies are showing this is getting a little bit better, but the vast majority of household tasks fall on women,” she explains. “A single woman does about 10 hours of housework a week, and a married woman does 17 or 18. The most precious commodity a woman has is her time. I don’t know any woman who wants to take a ten-week course, unless you’re getting a degree at the end of it. We don’t have time! I don’t want a ten-week business course, just tell me the top ten things I need to know, and I’ll do it myself!”
wiseHer also provides flexible funding options to female entrepreneurs who are just getting a foot in the door.
“You don’t always need a million dollars, sometimes you just need a thousand dollars to get yourself started,” Rose says. “We offer microgrants as part of our strategy. Our experts give their time away for a ‘low bono’ fee, less than what they’d normally expect for an hour, and we take a portion of the proceeds and give it back in the form of micro-grants.”
The success of the program built wiseHer into a popular, award-winning platform (receiving the 2019 Startup of the Year Community Award and the Highest Impact Award from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute).
And when COVID-19 struck, the platform represented a unique opportunity to do good.
Caroline Webb, a coach, author, and speaker (and a colleague of Rose’s through women’s groups), approached Rose with an idea for the platform.
“She messaged me saying, ‘I want to be able to offer coaching for these frontline workers, but we don’t have a platform and a scalable way to deliver it. Can we use wiseHer?’” Rose says. “And I said, ‘Of course!’”
The first step was finding support from the platform’s experts. Rose has always encouraged her experts to never give their time away for free, so much of the FrontlineHelp program is based on charitable spirit and a willingness to do pro bono work. Rose provided the platform, and Webb provided a network of other coaches and advisors. Together, they formed FrontlineHelp.
“Just because the pandemic has peaked in some places doesn’t mean the effects are going to stop for these people,” says Kathryn Rose, Founder of wiseHer. “We’ve already started calls with nurses and doctors.”
FrontlineHelp runs through the wiseHer platform, which is geared toward–but not exclusively for–women in business.
“We know from studies that the vast majority of healthcare workers are women, but we’ve been reaching out to both men and women,” says Rose. “Just because WiseHer is woman-focused, doesn’t mean we’re anti-men. We’ve scheduled calls in the UK and the US, and hopefully soon we’ll be rolling out to other locations.”
wiseHer provides on-demand expert advice for women to accelerate their business, career, or life. Through scheduled consulting calls, female entrepreneurs and other professionals can get real, actionable advice from wiseHer experts without wasting time or money on lengthy coaching programs or online courses.
“AT&T came in to sponsor the program for the first three months,” Rose says. “We want it to last for a whole year.”
Rose is careful to separate the offerings in FrontlineHelp from the offerings presented in wiseHer.
“One of the reasons we’re so focused on separating this out from wiseHer is that the program isn’t just for professional services,” she explains. “We don’t offer mental health services through FrontlineHelp, but we do have coaches available for wellness consultations. A lot of people coming through the program ask about things like managing teams, managing doctors who have never handled this level of adversity, and managing their own emotional support while supporting a team. We’ve had people ask about nutrition and keeping themselves healthy during the crisis. What we’re doing is offering a listening ear, and the opportunity to bounce ideas off of somebody. Callers can walk away with breathing exercises, stress management, and those sort of resources. That’s what we’re offering, and that’s why it’s so important.”
In addition to FrontlineHelp, Rose and her team established the wiseHer Foundation in partnership with the Giving Back Fund, the program’s fiscal sponsor. Through the Foundation, Rose offers microgrants to struggling women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs who find seed funding sources drying up during the COVID crisis.
“We know a lot of them are being left behind by PPP programs that require them to have three employees or other requirements that don’t fit the bill,” Rose says. “There are so many organizations that say they offer mentorship, and they do—but we partner with many of them. Mentorship programs only go so far. One, you’re asking people to give their time for free, and in a crisis like this, people’s time is even more valuable. If they’re going to give their time away, it’s going to be very limited in a mentorship capacity. And two, oftentimes there isn’t a great fit between the mentor and the mentee. Our view of it is that advisory is an amazing supplement to a mentorship program, because it supports both sides of the economy. You have all these small businesses benefiting from at least a little bit of money, and at the end of the call, these experts can invite business owners to take part in external programs if there’s a match.”
“We have all these women’s small businesses offering their expertise, and all these women needing their expertise,” Rose adds. “The whole ecosystem rises—these people are giving a little bit, these people are getting a little bit, and through programs like these and our micro-grants, we get to support the whole ecosystem.”
About wiseHer: wiseHer provides on-demand expert advice for women to accelerate their business, career, or life. Through one on one coaching sessions, information seekers can connect with an expert who answers their direct questions, provides actionable advice, and sets them on the road to success.
About FrontlineHelp.org: FrontlineHelp offers free coaching calls to frontline healthcare staff and first responders dealing with Covid-19. They have a global network of coaches signed up to offer their time and their support for free. To learn more, visit FrontlineHelp.org or CoachingForHealthcareHeroes.com.
About Kathryn Rose: Kathryn Rose is a business owner, speaker, mentor, and marketing expert. With a career spanning Wall Street, her own consulting firm, and the technology industry, she offers actionable advice and support for other female entrepreneurs through her advisory platform, wiseHer. To contact Kathryn, reach out by email or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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