Meet Tina Gleisner
Handywoman, Home Expert & Homeowner Advocate
Can you remember what career you wanted as a child? Was there someone special in your life that inspired you and became a role model for you? Did you wonder what you would wear to work? One of my favorite career stories is telling people how I promoted myself from suits to sweatshirts. It was exhilarating leaving the uniform behind me, and all the other trappings of corporate America.
Have you made dramatic changes on your journey through life? I'm proud to be a boomer with years of experience. I've raised two sons and now get to enjoy my granddaughter. Born in New York City, I jumped into technology after college which gave me the opportunity to do lots of exciting things around the world. For example, I managed a joint IBM/Hong Kong Telecom project that delivered a Netflix like solution in Hong Kong in 1994. It was challenging as there weren't any movie compression standards yet, while today we take MPEG for granted.
Tired of living on airplanes, I started a handyman business in southern New Hampshire. Over eight years, my team of technicians served more than 2,000 homeowners. Combining what I was learning running my handyman business and ownership of 15 houses in 5 states, I started writing emails and then blogging on my website, to share my knowledge with others.
Where You Can Find Me Online
We're all busy so you probably have a few social media communities you frequent. Here's where I live online and I'd love to connect with you although my passion is answering comments you leave on blog posts here at HomeTipsforWomen.com.
- Personal Facebook Profile – where I share a bit about my life and a few home tidbits.
- HomeTips4Women Page – which I hope you'll like as that's where I share my blog posts and the best that I'm finding around the web.
- Pinterest – one of my favorites as you're able to collect all sorts of great ideas! Have a summer intern sorting pins into new Pinterest sections.
- Twitter – for sharing fun stuff but I don't spend too much time there (just to be honest).
- LinkedIn Profile – was my first social media platform. Here's where you'll learn more about my journey from college through today … and don't be surprised at all the different things I've done.
- YouTube Channel – is where I want to share more videos but first, I have to fine someone to edit them as it takes me way too long.
- Google+ Profile – is where I started sharing years ago, and like most business owners, get discourage with trying to keep everything up to date so let's not worry about my business page right now.
- Instagram – still trying to figure this one out as I prefer taking photos with DSLR camera, not my phone which has limited range.
My Corporate Journey Wearing Suits
Until you start a business, you don't realize how complicated our world has become. When you're an employee, your company provides you with an environment for work and the people too. So my story starts out like most in my boomer generation, when I finished college.
- My dreams as a child were about being a teacher. And one summer I ran a school for kids in the neighborhood, on my back porch. So no surprise that …
- My undergraduate degree is in elementary education. The biggest lesson I learned from student teaching was there are TOO many rules in the school system. I knew it wasn't an environment where I'd thrive.
- Computers where just emerging (mainframes, not personal computers) so I stayed in school and got a masters in computer science from Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). So in many ways, you could call me a certified geek.
- From RPI, I went to IBM and built a wide array of tech skills over 29 years. My career was unusual because I moved across many disciplines from product development to systems integration, marketing and consulting. While I didn't understand my entrepreneurial spirit at the time, I was an intrapreneur, With executive sponsorship for high risk jobs, I had the freedom to create solutions at warp speed like:
- Automated operations for distributed computing centers as today's fiber optics technology entered the marketplace in the late '80s.
- Video-on-demand (think NetFlix), a partnership between Hong Kong Telecom and IBM in the early '90s before you heard about the Internet!
- Sadly I became a corporate casualty because of my age (over 50). IBM decided to retire me early and keep half my pension (would have kept if I'd worked 6 additional weeks). Not only were my financial losses huge, I also lost my network and the friends I'd worked with for 10 and 20 years. IBM has continued their revolving door strategy for almost 20 years, acquiring companies to prop up revenue numbers and kicking employees out the back door.
Promoting Myself from Suits to Sweatshirts
At the time of my layoff, we were in the throes of a major home addition, adding 4 stories to the back of my 100 year old Victorian. All the business ideas I'd been considering got tossed out the window as I wasn't going to work with corporate clients so what and where?
It didn't take long to realize I loved houses, from buying and moving to making home improvements. My original business concept looked more like Angie's List, using my technology skills and homeowner experience (IBM is sometimes known as I've Been Moved, and we've owned more than 10 houses). When I took a franchise course, it led me to buying … a handyman franchise. And that's how I traded in my corporate suits for red sweatshirts … my “suits to sweatshirts story!”
Moving into a new industry meant a steep learning curve which I looked forward to. What I never realized was how challenging running a small business can be, including marketing and sales.
Here's a peek inside my world as a business owner, which includes most contractors who work as solopreneurs. Homeowners might get angry when their calls aren't answered promptly, but most contractors work during the day and handle paperwork and return calls at night – it's a tough life.
- Creating your work environment – at home, an office or setting up your business on wheels like most contractors who work out of their van.
- Marketing to attract clients – which is more challenging online, as it's fragmented unlike the yellow pages which generated more than 30% of my leads (> 500 jobs) in 2005.
- Working with clients to learn what they want, what they need and deliver a solution that satisfies them – For example, they want to cover up a stain on their ceiling without replacing a roof that's beyond it's end of life. They're blame the contractor when the stain returns, and it's not fun explaining why after one call back, we won't make any more repairs.
- Hiring and managing employees – was challenging as my IBM management experience taught me to coach employees to achieve success, until I realized there weren't enough hours for coaching and resolving customer complaints.
Running a handyman business is operationally intense. You're always fighting fires – a technician that doesn't show up for work, a customer who overslept and your phone call wakes them up (won't ever forget that call), picking up pantry cabinets from Home Depot but they're damaged (took 4 orders, and then we had to drill the holes that were missing). It never stops.
I also started a few other related businesses, and decided to sell my handyman business after 8 years. I decided to focus on my passion for teaching women homeowners how to manage their homes, one project at a time. So my journey continues with the story behind Home Tips for Women.