comfort zoneOn Monday evening, September 29, I’m inviting Remarkable Women to answer that exact question. Is it really comfortable in there, or is it a hiding place and cover story that keeps you from what you really want in life?

Several years ago I was coaching a photographer who, more than anything, wanted a commercial studio where she could invite clients in for headshots, plus leave her equipment safely. Photographers notably have lots of that, and housing it in a Fairfield County storefront location was her vision. She might be inclined to turn down an opportunity because of the dread she felt loading and unloading her car for the job.

But she never got past Square 1 which, in her case was, “I can’t afford the cost of rent here.” I challenged her to go explore the area with a realtor. After a couple of rounds of “yes, but”s, she called a commercial real estate broker, toured the area and found a place in a Wilton, CT shopping center that met her needs exactly as she’d envisioned. This included the square footage, rent and length of lease. It was exactly two miles outside of her designated range, but she quickly overcame that objection and settled happily into the space soon after finding it.

What stops you from moving out of your comfort zone? Money? Time? The unknown?

At my next Remarkable Women’s Network event, I will help you identify and dismantle your biggest stoppers. I overcame a bunch of my own when making the decision to spend a Semester at Sea earlier this year.

  • How could I take off three months from my work?
  • Could I really afford to take this money out of savings to go on this journey?
  • What about all those shots I had to get?
  • And leaving my loved ones?

I’ve become quite adept at moving out of my comfort zone and into the thrilling arena of self-discovery and growth.

On Monday, the 29th, not only will you be able to move forward towards your desired outcome, you’ll be a witness to the transformative power of watching others move through their fears as well. I’m very excited to share highlights of my travel with you. I’m also pleased to offer an exercise that will reveal which area of your life may be keeping you stuck.

Please join me for the first of three Remarkable Women’s Network events I’m offering this fall and early winter. Space is limited for this special experience.

Joanne McCall and me

Joanne McCall and me

I’ve been reluctant to attend any of the new networks I started going to when I moved to NYC nearly two years ago. I have met a handful of wonderful women, particularly through In Good Company. But I am not feeling the love or sense of connectedness that I used to experience back at the Entrepreneurial Woman’s Network some years ago.

True, the entire fabric of business has changed radically, but something still has been missing for me.

So I began, as any good entrepreneur is wont to do, making up my own networking strategy. It’s been terrific, and I’m going to stick with this plan for the near future. I wanted to share it with you so you can try it on for size yourself.

I’ve been holding my own set of get-togethers, meeting 1:1 or 1:4, as a way of getting to know other women business owners and professionals in a more up close and personal way than shaking hands, exchanging business cards and trying to find common ground.

Much of it has happened organically. Living in New York City now, people I’ve interacted with virtually over the years are contacting me when they’re going to be in the Big Apple. I loved Norwalk, CT, but it wasn’t the hub that this great city is. For instance, Joanne McCall, whom I’d met via a webinar on creating webinars several years ago, gave me the heads up that she’d be in the city last week. We arranged to have lunch at Le Pain Quotidien and immediately connected in person after knowing each other across the miles.

Joanne inspired me with her mantra: All the way in, all the way out. The deeper you can go into yourself, the further outside of yourself you can also travel. For someone who has just circumnavigated the globe, I nodded enthusiastically.We also talked about partnering to offer a retreat for women that addresses that concept.

In addition, Joanne shared a study she’d read about that was literally shocking. Published by the University of Virginia, it tested people’s ability to spend time alone with their thoughts. More people would actively seek out brief experiences with painful electrical shocks rather than remain totally quiet for under 15 minutes.

The investigation found that most would rather be doing something – possibly even hurting themselves – than doing nothing or sitting alone with their thoughts, said the researchers, whose findings will be published July 4 in the journal Science.

Back to my networking program. You can see how excited I get when I share ideas with other creative women! I’ve been meeting referrals from good friends. I started a new writing group with women I’ve met in NY who have mentioned editing, memoir writing and teaching writing.

The point here is, I’m not sitting around waiting to meet people. I’ve established my own calendar of events so that I’m out there in a meaningful way once again.

BTW, I’ll have an offer coming out this week for those of you, especially in Connecticut, who also miss EWN and would like to have a meaningful evening where you can meet like-minded women entrepreneurs in an intimate, educational and fun environment. If you find that you want to connect and would appreciate my assistance in gathering remarkable women, stay tuned for the announcement and invitation to attend these sessions.

Lindsey's book party

Author Lindsey Pollak and her extremely proud mom

Where to begin?!

Last night my daughter Lindsey celebrated the release of her latest book, Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders. I received my inscribed copy at the event and began reading it right away.

It drew me right in with its wisdom, candor and humor. Lindsey writes well, tells memorable, relatable stories, and infuses the book with concrete, meaningful examples, wit and copious resources. I’ve already learned so much about the millennials in the first few chapters.

Well over 100 people joined her last night at the launch. I talked to many of the guests who shared an enthusiasm for Lindsey and her work. She is a good friend and colleague. You could feel the positive energy at site/109, the cool location chosen for the party.

I am so proud of my daughter.

Here’s a video clip of her in action.

Best of all, when I opened my copy of her book and read her inscription, it said, “I owe it all to you!” I’m flattered to think that, but truly know that she has earned every inch of the success she’s experiencing and so richly deserves.

Buy your copy today!

 

 

Leigh Mickelson - CLAY Art Center - Executive Director

Leigh Mickelson – CLAY Art Center – Executive Director

My friend and mentor Terry Capuana has been telling me about the Clay Art Center in Portchester for years. “You’ve got to see this place,” she has said over and over again. Finally, as though it were I who was doing her the favor, I agreed to schedule a Westchester day with Terry to see a few of her recommended places. Was I blown away!

Because of who Terry is, the inspiring Executive Director of Clay Art Center – Leigh Mickelson met us on our arrival. I could feel the energy of the place from the second the door opened. Members walking out to the parking lot were abuzz. The gallery area was sparkling with creativity and beauty. Then Leigh talked to us for about 15 minutes filling me in on the history of the place and what their plans are moving forward. I started thinking about how I might take the train there on a regular basis to attend classes. (And this is from the pottery class drop-out of 1971! Here I think I could learn.)

And then Leigh gave us the tour. The place is amazing! It’s a sprawling building that includes classes for kids, studio areas for resident artists, rows of wheels for throwing pots, tons of shelf space, a room for the kilns with a large space for the newly expected super-kiln they’ve ordered to accommodate the talent and quantity of artistry on location. If you have any interest in pottery, clay, creativity or finding community through using your hands, pay the Clay Art Center a visit.

Dalia Berman

Dalia Berman

During the tour I had the privilege of meeting several members at work. Being the networker and promoter I am, I asked Dalia Berman if I could take her picture. Please spend a moment or two looking at her gorgeous work.

I also visited Recologie and the studio of Judith Weber in New Rochelle with Terry. More on those later this week.

Thank you, Terry, for persisting and for sharing your incredibly talented friends with me and mine.

 

 

Whatever you thought about her sense of humor, Joan Rivers was a hard-working woman entrepreneur whom I admired and learned from.

I didn’t realize just how hard-working she was until I saw her documentary, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.” This woman would travel great distances to perform for small audiences simply to keep her calendar filled. The most memorable scene in the movie, for me, was her saying, “You want to see fear?” Then she opened up her paper calendar to empty pages, pointed at the open spaces, and said, “This is fear.”

The other visual I remember distinctly was her old-fashioned card catalog, big as the New York Public Library’s must have been, filled with jokes she’d recorded and filed. She was the consummate pro.

I was actually surprised to read what size estate she had left behind. Even though she lived in a gilt-edged apartment the size of Versailles, she always seemed hungry to earn more–QVC, the small gigs I mentioned, and the cable shows she signed on for. Made me wonder if she was having trouble paying her bills. Her $290 million estate belies that ambition.

Rest in peace, Joan. You deserve the well-earned time off.

ice cube tray

My reaction to receiving two cracked ice cube trays was, at first, annoyance. I buy almost everything on the internet now. Figuring out the return policy and repackaging the product were going to be more of a nuisance than I’d take the time for. I probably would have tossed the broken trays and bought them at 5x the price at Fairway or another expensive outlet in my neighborhood.

And then I noticed the blue sheet in the envelope thanking me for shopping The Bargain Shack! And on it was the magical offering that signifies great and thoughtful companies:

Please allow us to make things right before leaving a negative rating.

They know! Not that I would have even taken the time to do that. But notice how this simple offer turned around the bad taste in my mouth. I immediately emailed the company, received a personal and funny response:

We ship the ice stick trays in bubble mailers to keep the weight and shipping cost to a minimum.  It appears to be adequate, usually, as we’ve sold hundreds of sets and this is the first breakage complaint that we’ve received.  But, with a plastic item, breakage was bound to happen eventually, and I’m sorry that you are the unlucky winner of that lottery.

We’ll ship you out a free replacement set today, and it should arrive on Monday or Tuesday.

Thank you for your business, and for giving us the chance to make things right, instead of just pulling the trigger on bad feedback, as many buyers do.

What lessons can you learn from that? And can you apply them to your business?

lazy choices feet hammock

Within 90 minutes this morning I heard the same sentence uttered by two different women I admire. In each instance, a second party had commented on a lifestyle choice my friend/client had made and remarked, somewhat snarkily, “It’s so nice that you have that choice.”

One woman heard it from her husband after mentioning the delightful time she’d had at the beach with their grandchildren. The other was a client who doesn’t take business calls over the weekend. Her client couldn’t comprehend why a call made on Sunday hadn’t been returned that day.

That left-handed (sorry, Lefties!) compliment–“So nice that you have a choice!”– carries an underlying message.

Let me see if I can get it right. What they really meant was that “If you were in any way a responsible human being LIKE I AM, you’d surely work as hard as ME and quit fooling around and having fun.”

Right? Isn’t that the subtext you read into that statement?

I was hoping and praying that my client’s response would line up with my thought bubble, which it did. “Thank you,” she responded. “I do realize how lucky I am to have that choice.”

While the martyr uttering those words wants to appear supportive, the self-righteousness inherent in her assessment belies the wish for the other.

The truth is, we are ALL always at choice. That’s a bitter pill to swallow when you’re talking about tuitions, mortgages, car loans or professional self-image. Someone else’s seeming disregard for your chosen way of life is not a crime.

This post is actually a plea for those of you on either side of this equation to choose to take some well-deserved time for yourself before the end of this glorious summer. I promise you that you have the choice and whatever it is you’re choosing NOT to do for the hour or three of relaxation and self-care is well worth it.

 

secret surprising

I’m getting ready to re-start my Mastermind Intensive this September. I’m interviewing each of the eight women entrepreneurs who will be joining me monthly for the next year. I’m inviting the members who’ve participated before to recall each expert we had address the group to help me understand what worked best.

More than a few mentioned one expert’s excellent content, but commented on the lack of follow-through. Even months later, that missing link stayed in their memories.

It’s the little things. The things that aren’t mentioned that have us make choices.  And whoever says, “The reason I’m not hiring you (again) is….” They offer lots of reasons, but rarely is the real truth uttered.

How often have you heard someone say, “I was unimpressed with your business card.” Or, “There were too many typos in your handout, so I’m going to pass.”

You may register that what you see and what you get don’t reflect the business owner’s professional investment in their image or reputation. But your executive decision maker acts on that noticing and is too polite to mention it.

The better news here is that our reasons for hiring or using another’s services can be strictly personal. You asked about my grandson, or you remembered that I don’t eat tomatoes. Anything you say or do after that has a halo around it. And anything less-than-fabulous you said before may be erased. It’s a complex balance.

All I’m really saying is, you may not know the real reason for either decision.

 

eraser erasing editingI’m in the process of applying to be a writer-in-residence for a few weeks this coming winter. The location is remote and far away. It is exclusively for women.  We each get our own cabin, write all day, then gather in the evening for community and support. Meals are delivered to our doors. Each of us is responsible for keeping our own shelter heated by stoking its wood-burning stove.

Some might find this description abhorrent, but for this introvert, it sounds like heaven. As many of you who’ve been following my blog know, I’m working on a memoir. I would love to have 15 days straight to engage in nothing else.

In order to be selected, there’s a rigorous application to be submitted. I’ve been wordsmithing for days now, but without feedback, I had no idea how my writing sounds. I took the opportunity to share the four pages of their questions and my responses to members of my mastermind group. This morning I received comments from one of our members, in green (appreciative that it wasn’t red), for which I am eternally grateful.

What I received was an outside reader’s perspective, solid suggestions and superb clarity on what was needed to improve my application. I trust the source (she’s a marketing wonder), will make the changes and feel more assured that what I’m submitting is the best I’ve got.

Readers and friends frequently comment on the support system I’ve built in my years as a business owner. I have someone who helps me appear well-dressed and professional, a coach to assist me in putting my stories together when I speak to assocations, a writing coach, a business coach, a goal buddy, a financial team and a raft of friends willing to take a call when I’m struggling in any way. One of the biggest lessons in my growth and development of an entrepreneur and human being has been learning how to ask for help.

I’m curious how you’ve done with creating your own team of advisors. How are you at saying, I don’t know how to do this, but I know someone who does? And then contacting them…the hardest part.

P.S. When selecting an image for this post, I started with the word EDIT. Not liking the first batch of photos, I tried CORRECTION and was horrified that 90% of the images were of beautiful women being marked up for plastic surgery. I went back to EDIT and chose this antedeluvian icon.

Yin Yang Symbol - Structuring Thesis of Macrobiotics

Yin Yang Symbol – Structuring Thesis of Macrobiotics

I didn’t often read Red Smith‘s column in the sports section of the NY Times, but on one occasion I was extremely taken by his humility. He wrote something like, “I’ve been writing about baseball for 30 years, and I think I’m beginning to understand it now.” (Please, Sports Fans, correct me if you know the quote!)

Why this strikes me today is that I am attending a macrobiotics seminar in Gaithersburg, MD, where after seven years of studying and practicing this amazing way of life, I’m beginning to understand it. Last night’s lecture by counselor Warren Kramer focused on the yin and yang of energy. Macrobiotics is not simply a food choice, but also a spiritual, mental and physical way of life.

Though I’ve heard it before, macrobiotics focuses on the ‘seven conditions of health.’ I always considered myself healthy because I don’t have any chronic or terminal diseases. But, looking at these seven conditions, there is much room for improvement. Number 1 is LACK OF FATIGUE. I was nodding off as Warren was talking about this. Definitely an area that is affected by choice of foods and lifestyle. I’m not a late-night person, but granola may be too yang for me to eat on a daily basis.

I know. This is pretty strong stuff. But as my eyes are being opened to the benefits of macrobiotics (translates to: Great Life), I’m better able to understand the why of making food and lifestyle choices. Certainly my profession is a lifestyle choice.

GOOD MEMORY is number 4. This one caught my attention because my memory is not what it used to be. Looking on a website for more details I found this description of #4 which I found reassuring:

Good Memory: Memory is the mother of our judgment. Without memory of what we have experienced, we have no judgment or ability to evaluate life’s changing circumstances. Good memory is essential to a meaningful life.

Remembering the name of the woman I just met is not as important as remembering that when I had that ‘macrobiotic’ cookie after dinner, I suffered a poor night’s sleep. I need to make a different choice for my body.

Since we complete our growth cycle as humans at 19 or 20, what continues to grow are our mind and consciousness. Our intake of food is what supports that. Understanding this, whenever you do, makes choosing what goes into your body more important than ever before.

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