retreat name tagsI determined to create the name tags for my upcoming retreat on this snowy day. I’m really good at work-arounds. When something doesn’t come out the way I expect on the first try, I’m creative enough to figure out a different way. Today, however, I vowed to stay with this project until it was right.

When the first batch (on the right) printed so that only 1/2 the name showed, I knew that I could put full sheets of paper into my printer, then cut and slice them to fit the plastic holders I use. But the paper was thin, and I had pre-cut name tag stock to use.

The Avery.com site suggested switching browsers. I use Mozilla Firefox. It said to use Internet Explorer (note the time suck in making this adjustment).

I’m going to single-handle this and stick with it until these suckers print, I vowed.

After getting that browser to download, I re-did the design, re-entered the names and smugly pressed “print.” That’s when I got the rendering on the left. All three names per sheet showed up where only the first name should. Aarghh!

But I’m gonna get this right, dammit. I kept getting an error message on my printer. Turns out, it thought I was feeding photo paper in through a special slot. Once I figured that out, the message stopped appearing, and I was able to get the right size image on the right sized tag: see Jane name tag center.

Remember the old adage, “When in doubt, follow directions!” Yeah, well, I didn’t…

time line for retreatI know my style by now. I’ve gotten the timeline for my February retreat chunked out on an Excel spreadsheet. The next step is to convert it into notebook pages so that I’ll have a script to operate by.

Even though the spreadsheet is thorough, covering the agenda, the materials, the room arrangement and meal times, I still need to put it into a form that feels right to me. This is a process I go through before every new program I offer.

I’ve never been one to wing it. Even talks I’ve given that feel unrehearsed and spontaneous belie the days of preparation I needed to appear unrehearsed and spontaneous.

The good news is, I know this about myself. The bad news is, I forget this each time I start something new and think, “Why isn’t this easier?”

 

Crescent Moon Visual Explorer card-0I promised to reveal what happened at my Remarkable Women’s Workshop as a result of using my new Visual Explorer kit, the coaching tool I introduced at the event.

Magic!

First, I asked each woman attending to talk briefly about what challenges lay ahead of her. We went around the circle sharing issues from staffing, lack of momentum, self-promotion to clarity, increasing income and marketing. In short order there was bonding and an awareness of who was in the room.

I then asked everyone to select an image from the stack I’d brought along with me. “I found mine!” one woman ecstatically shouted within 10 seconds of investigating the selection of 50+ cards I’d laid out around the perimeter of the room. Some took longer and a few needed their image to pick them, which also happened.

We re-grouped into a circle and talked about our selections. “I chose this one because of the peace I felt looking at it,” a participant said of the crescent moon photo she’d opted for. “It looks like a smile to me,” another member reflected back, which yielded a matching smile from the woman holding the picture. This was followed by a deeper delving into how her choice answered the question she’d posed earlier. Around the circle it went.

One of our members is deeply gifted in the intuition department. She’s studied with the masters in the fields of feng shui, tarot, astrology and other disciplines of the soul. She’s truly brilliant and demonstrated her talent over and over that night, pinpointing the gifts she recognized in the others, making suggestions and offering inspired thoughts. Her participation was a gift to us all.

When talking about how to bring her own talent to the world, she referred to her extensive training. “Don’t show them your toolbox,” another participant countered. “Just let them know what’s in it for them.” We all benefited from that wisdom.

It brought me right back to my early studies in entrepreneurial marketing and sales. People want to know the benefits, not the features. We don’t care that you studied with the best and the brightest (unless you’re Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard). We simply want to know how is all your training going to help me. Customers didn’t care that I worked with aniline dyes on free-range, organic eggs. They just wanted something beautiful that they could enjoy for years to come.

Here’s a surprising outcome that just happened today as a result of my wanting to blog about our session. I wanted to show you, Readers, what these beautiful images look like. They were each 8.5×11 photos or art renderings of a multitude of subject matter–boaters rafting down a stream, a painting of the Grand Canal in Venice, figures floating in outer space. At the end of our evening, I volunteered to scan each woman’s selection and email it to her and the group. No one wanted to wait, even overnight, to have their image sent. Each person took out her cellphone and snapped a shot of her own picture as a keepsake.

This morning, in order to show you what one of the images looked like–and the site that sells them displays NONE for anyone to cut and paste, because they’re intellectual property–I scanned the moon one and laughed out loud when I saw what came with the scan: SAMPLE in bright white letters that only got revealed, like a watermark, when I wanted to show it to the world. Lesson learned!

I also made a metaphor from this–that you never know what’s beneath the surface of anything until you process it further.

Risk-taking Norman Lear

I’m thoroughly enjoying Norman Lear’s memoir (autobiography, really) and bookmarked a page on my nook that I had to share with you. The level of risk this man took puts the risks I take on a daily basis into perspective.

Before he was NORMAN LEAR, he had trouble making ends meet, living high off the hog when he had the opportunity, then closer to the bone as he was chasing his next big thing. He wasn’t always in the driver’s seat. So when All in the Family was getting ready to debut, he had everything on the line. As a reminder, he notes that the popular sitcoms of the early 70’s were defined by hillbillies and petticoats. Was America ready for a reality sitcom before The Real World?

Here’s the way he described the risk of sticking with his guns about the script, which he insisted be uncensored:

A show could be absolutely terrific and fail for other reasons, like the night it was on, its time slot, and how well the network was doing overall.

Imagine doing your very best work and not ‘winning’ the prize of your demographic. Happens all the time, right? What’s important here? What’s the lesson? Over and over I read, experience and know that you must keep doing what’s in your heart and soul, keep putting it out to your market and keep creating, no matter what.

The rewards. As an instructor of mine once taught me most memorably, “It’s like they say in the Talmud: It all depends.”

By the way, what completely charmed me about this book is Lear’s characterization of his mother. Similarly hard to please as mine was, this particular quote takes the cake. When the Television Academy started its Hall of Fame, Lear was among the first inductees along with Edward R. Murrow, William S. Paley, Lucille Ball, Milton Berle and others. He called to share the good news with Mom who responded, “It that’s what they want to do, who am I to say?”

Oy.

magic wandI’m sure this has happened to you. I recently had lunch with a friend who was trying to remember the name of William Randolph Hearst’s girlfriend. Not until she was walking home an hour later did it come to her: Marion Davies.

Next Monday night, at my Remarkable Women’s Workshop: Getting Unstuck/Taking Action, I’m going to introduce you to a tool that will get you into that ‘walking home’ space and assist you in accessing your inner wisdom. On the spot, right there at 420 Westport Avenue in the gorgeous Hypnobirthing of CT space where I’ll hold my event. You will present your challenge (out loud or internally), I’ll set up an exercise using this handy-dandy device, and voila, an unexpected and truthful answer will come to you. I promise!

I’ve borrowed this ‘device’ previously from a colleague and used it with great success. Not long ago a friend mentioned how she successfully found a solution using this very thing. I decided to take the plunge and purchase this coaching tool that I had resisted buying for years. That’s because it costs $380, a hefty pricetag for…Well, you’ll see what it is. I kept hoping to find it on ebay, but it’s never shown up for sale. It’s too valuable to give away once you own it.

Curious? Sign up for my workshop on Monday, January 12, and experience this ‘gizmo’ for yourself. It’s actually quite elegant. I’m teasing about it’s whatchamacallit-ness. I think you’ll like it as much as I do.

For those of you who can’t make it, check out my blog next week for the remarkable results that occurred as women get unstuck.

Wherever you are in your business, you can reach your target audience through a blog, Facebook, twitter, Instagram or email. Some people get so overwhelmed by the availability of media that they freeze and don’t let anyone know what they’re up to. Bad idea!

1980's Marketing Example

1980’s Marketing Example

A friend, who is downsizing and clearing out old file cabinets sent me this image of one of my earliest marketing ventures. Pretty pathetic by today’s standards. But I remember that I filled that class, so who’s to judge?

If I hadn’t started here, this is about 35 years ago, I may not ever have gotten to where I am today. I did what I needed to do with what I had: my handwriting, a market of people who wanted to learn a skill, and an offer with a deadline. That’s what marketing is:

  • Tell ‘em what you got
  • Tell ‘em what they’re going to get
  • Tell ‘em by when they have to take you up on the offer
  • Add a call to action

I’ve gotten more elegant and eloquent in my delivery, but the basics remain the same. To the right is my most recent marketing piece, online, for next Monday night’s Remarkable Women’s Workshop. The same elements are there. The medium has changed, but I continue to put out to my market ideas and products I know they will find useful.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.05.26 PM

play button actionRosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School, once said, “My personal law of management, if not life, is that everything looks like a failure in the middle.”

Having experienced my own legions of failures in the middle, I’ve become an expert at getting out of that state. In every case, it has required me taking an action, most often picking up the phone and asking for help. I have a short list of go-to women who will take my call (or text) and get back to me–as I will respond in kind to their similar messages of distress.

“Help, I’m stuck!” Or “Help, I don’t know what to do next.” Or, most often, “Help, I’m afraid of what I have to do next.”

Hearing myself say those words out loud immediately changes the nature of the stuckness. I become aware of what the issue is because I just articulated it to another human being.

Awareness is key.

In my head it sounded more like, “If you had any talent, brains, courage, etc. you’d already know how to do this.” When I say it out loud to a warm and friendly human being, it takes on a more basic, manageable and human size. I’m afraid to call a stranger and ask for information, a favor, a connection. I’m afraid to brainstorm my next chapter. What if nothing comes?

Usually the response on the other end of my outreach call is identification. “Me, too! I’d be scared to call Mr/Ms Important Person.” “I’d be afraid of THE VOID.” “I’m also nervous when asking for help. Yes, I get it.”

As soon as I pick up the phone, everything shifts. I breakthrough the stuckness, and I move on. Often, but not always, to a successful outcome. I regard the failures and rejections as re-directions pointing me to where I’m better suited.

Next Monday night, January 12 from 5:30 – 7:30pm, I am offering a Remarkable Women’s Workshop where ACTION will be the magic word. I have a terrific exercise to share with participants that promises to get you out of your head and into action mode in a way that is effortless. Its simplicity and elegance will surprise and delight you.

Register here and join me for a remarkable experience and move into action with me.

 

Michio Kushi

I let out an audible gasp this morning when I saw the obituary for Michio Kushi, the founder of the Kushi Institute, and a major influence in my life and health.

I attended my first macrobiotic conference at Babson College in 2008. Here I was introduced to a community which regarded the connection between what we ingest and how we feel with the utmost respect.

I had hired Gina Villalobos Paterno, a coach for macrobiotics, to walk me through a change of diet that became more plant-based and seasonally oriented. I dropped ten pounds–you know those ten pounds you’re always hoping to lose–evened out some of my body’s systems and never looked back. She introduced me to Michio and the conferences he presided over.

Eating macrobiotically has  become a way of life for me. It’s narrowed my choices. Where I used to meet a friend for an ice cream cone at Friendly’s back in the day, I’m more likely to agree to tea or a walk instead. In fact, eating things that weren’t good for me often kept me in less-than-healthy relationships. When you are fully conscious of what goes into your mouth, it’s harder to accept the unacceptable.

At home, I eat 100% this way. Out, I choose menu items that work for me. I love ethnic restaurants where rice, beans, vegetables and other grains are primary on the menu. Pizza has gone the way of the buggy whip for me, although occasionally I’ll have the pizza experience at Baba Louie’s in Great Barrington where they make a spelt pizza with soy mozzarella and omit the tomato sauce.

Michio, as everyone referred to him, spoke at every conference I attended. His message was always the same–that by eating this way: consciously and according to the season and climate–the world would be a more peaceful place. I can’t disagree.

I even had the extreme privilege of having a group reading with Michio. There were a dozen of us who had paid a fair price to be in his presence as he visually examined us, one by one, and told us what he saw. It would be hard to translate his words in a meaningful way (read his books for greater comprehension), but judging by the nods, the tears and the gratitude, he spoke truly and deeply to each of us about our “conditions.” He also gave advice, suggestions and tangible menu items to improve said conditions. I know, by the “recovery” panels–men and women who had terminal diagnoses, changed their diets and their worlds through macrobiotics–who shared their stories every year–that Michio’s worked not only changed lives, but saved thousands.

I’m sad for his passing and enriched by his life.

gift-box

How busy are you these days? If you’re in retail, you’re crazed, I’m sure. If you’re in a service business…not so much.

Everyone is distracted at this time of year–either shopping, feeling guilty about not shopping, worrying about getting it all done or thinking about how much to tip the maid, UPS guy, or doormen. Most likely, they’re not thinking about growing their business or anything other than surviving December once again.

So your phone’s not ringing, and you don’t have that hourly or daily reminder of how much you’re needed. What do you do with the lack of attention? Do you make up stories about your worth? I certainly did, back in the days when I took the quiet to heart.

Every December I would report to my Mastermind group that it might be time for me to take down my shingle. No one was calling. I must not be any good. Then, one of our members would remind me that I said the same thing the December before and the December before that. “Use the time to clean your office, Jane. Clear out your files. Get your finances ready for taxes.”

I would, and they’d be right. Since 2002, I’ve had a thriving coaching practice, so I can justifiably pass on this wisdom to my clients.

On the flip side, when I was in my creative business, I was frazzled and stressed out at this time of year–everyone wanted their orders completed and shipped in time for Christmas. In January, however, I went through the same withdrawal and negative self-assessment.

What I wish for you this holiday season is awareness, joy and balance. Notice if you’re feeding your brain negative messages based on False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR). Think about what you could do with the free time the calendar has delivered to you. Use the white space this month to take care of yourself. Come January, you might be saying, why didn’t I relax when I had the chance?

seth godin headshot

Seth Godin

I had the privilege of hearing Seth Godin at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday night. Not a typical venue for this entrepreneurial guru.

But, in a stroke, or SPARK, of creative genius, Julie Burstein invited him onto a two-person panel to celebrate a Renaissance entrepreneur and artistic master Pieter Coecke van Aelst. Interestingly, the display of his tapestries is unusual in that he was not a weaver. He recognized a medium and designed for it, even though it wasn’t the guild he belonged to. He was, above all, an even more talented collaborator.

I didn’t need much convincing that this tapestry artist was also on the cutting edge of global change. Having never heard of him prior to the brilliant curator Elizabeth Cleland‘s synopsis, I was intrigued, as Seth so aptly put it, that the tapestries were fabricated in different materials, wool, silk and metallic threads. It was explained that the king’s summer palace needed a different texture. Early marketing technique 101, make it in different colors and fabrics.

Besides the inspiration of great art, Seth announced the debut of his new book, Your Turn, and described his process, which is far from the usual. He has no printer, he designed it himself, and you can’t just buy one copy. When you order, he’ll send you two. Why? So you can give one away.

I love one of his mantras which is: We seduce ourselves into thinking that it’s not our turn.

BTW, Lizzie Cleland told the audience, and I heard her loud and clear, that the best way to experience the tapestry show is to simply walk through the immense wall-hangings and breathe the air. Her show has created a different climate at the Met. I, for one, can’t wait to see it.

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