Happy New Year!!! Our last blog post emphasized Valerie Torelli’s “how to” tips on communicating effectively within your business and personal life were highlighted (click here to review Part 1).  

This week I wanted to give you a real-life example of the 3rd tip:  Don’t make assumptionsWhen you understand that other people may have different motivations for their actions, even drastically varying world views, and  you don’t assume you know their motivations, you can go far toward preventing  communication difficulties.  If you really try to understand others and discuss the motivations for their actions before jumping to conclusions about their behavior, you may save a relationship, partnership or even a business.

We learn to make assumptions at a very young age and we make them without realizing.   In reality, these assumptions are not the truth.  They are personal responses to what people are thinking or doing.  They are also responses we internalize as to what someone might do or has done.  In other words, making assumptions does not lead to effective and productive communication.

Valerie Torelli with Cassey Ho

What do you do to change your thinking?

  • Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. 
  • When you assume you know what other people are thinking or want without asking questions, you are opening yourself up to problems including total misunderstandings and many times anger. 
  • You can completely transform your business and personal relationships with this one tip:  do not make assumptions.  Did you ever hear the phrase, don’t assume anything?  In other words, simply do not assume, ask questions to be sure you are on the same track as the other person and make sure you completely understand the expected results.

This real-life example is about three young women at Boston University who were business management majors.  During  their junior year they created an online cosmetic business; specifically powdered shimmery eye-shadow.    The company’s  target markets were high school and college girls.  The product was priced competitively with their competitors.  The color palate perfectly suited to a youthful market.

One of the founder’s had a wealth of experience in the cosmetic industry.   (For the sake of the blog we will call  her Nancy.)  Nancy had worked for Sephora and was a trained make-up stylist.  She knew how to create interesting powder eye-shadow colors and had the resources to create the product including the packaging.  Nancy promoted the products to her clients for weddings, proms and theatre work.  The  eye shadows were also promoted through “make-over ” parties on college campuses.  The business was really Nancy’s baby with product stored and distributed from her parent’s garage in a Boston suburb.

I  met the team during their junior year through their business management professor.   It was a great relationship from an advisory standpoint and I wanted them to succeed and continue the business after graduation.  Their senior year I saw the problems beginning to arise and by graduation, the company was no longer in existence.  The team had spit, Nancy suffered from severe depression and no longer considered the other two girls her friends.  Nancy sold or gave away all the product stored in her garage.  After a year of working for a software company, Nancy took a sales account position  with a large cosmetic company based in Florida, thus leaving Boston and her bad experience behind.

SO WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?  When Nancy and her two friends started the business they expected it to be a full-time mutual partnership.  While that may be how they thought in the beginning, none of them asked each other the hard questions.  They also did not write an agreement noting their expectations.  At the beginning of their senior year, the “Chief Financial Officer” announced she wanted to pursue a career in financial services after graduation.  She abruptly left the business.  Nancy and her remaining partner continued to market the business and sell the products while creating a “brand” among high school girls and college women.  Once again, the girls did not question each other’s goals and plans for graduation.  They both “assumed” they knew what the other had in mind.  After all, their Chief Financial Officer let them know at the beginning of their senior year about her future plans, and left without any notice.  It would be different with them?

A week before graduation, Nancy’s partner accepted a full-time marketing assistant’s position with a Boston snack food company.  This took Nancy by surprise.  She did not know her partner was considering any other options aside from their own business. They never discussed what would  happen if an “offer you can’t refuse” came around.  Nancy was upset and angry with her partner and friend.  She let her anger and disappointment get in her way and  did not look at any other options to keep the business going.  Nancy felt betrayed by her friend and became extremely depressed.  She blamed B.U. career services department for being ineffective with helping her get a good job, even though it was a  last-minute decision to talk with them.

We look forward to hearing from you and any tips on communication you might have to include.  Be sure to let us know and we will include them on our next post.

Wishing all of you a fantastic 2012 with your classes and businesses and yes in your love lives also.  Connect with us on Facebook for Girl’s CEO Connection Page at and on the Realizing a Vision Facebook Group at

Best regards always