mustache on woman

Oh, boy! I got the best responses (mainly privately) from you! Great suggestions (see yesterday’s comments) and so much inspiration.

I did leave the dishes in the sink last night and slept in this morning.

This could get dangerous!

Today I put a mustache on the photo of an acquaintance–beard and eyebrows, too. I’m going to work through the list of your brilliant ideas over the next couple of weeks until I need to report back to the woman who challenged me.

Thank you, All, for the wide-grin-producing escapades. My list is growing. Keep ‘em coming!

naughty girlI just got an assignment from a trusted support person to do something naughty or mischievous on a daily basis. The point of the exercise is to misbehave, act out. Consequences be damned! (Does swearing count?)

What’s that quote about well-behaved women not making history? This is in an effort to do my part on my own behalf.

But I need help. I’ve spent a lifetime following the rules, coloring in the lines and not making waves. This has got to stop.

Trouble is, I’m having a hard time coming up with mischievous acts that won’t harm anyone (leaving dirty dishes in the sink), get me kicked out of my building (throwing water balloons out my window) or negatively effect me (eating stuff that makes me sick). I’m drawing a big blank.

I’m asking for your help. What ways do you act out, misbehave that you’d be willing to share with me for the sake of women and history? You can comment below or email me privately – jane@janepollak.com .

I’m completely serious about this.

people pyramid humanGrowing up, someone who ‘needed help’ was looked at sideways. Going to a ‘shrink’ was ridiculed as even the expression implies. This was all before the days of coaches, support groups, accountability partners, etc.

Today, asking for help is a sign of strength. Harvey McKay told an audience of thousands, back in my NSA* days, that he worked with no fewer than 54 coaches. He had a speech coach, a writing coach, a business coach, and on and on. He exhibited no shame, was (and still is) a hugely successful businessman, author and speaker. And he announced, from the platform, that he NEEDED help.

Sadly, most professionals don’t share that there are legions behind them in support positions. Whether it’s pride, shame or deceit, many folks would prefer that the public think that they are the ONE who can pull it off solo.

I’d like to speak on behalf of those who openly admit that asking for help is a sign of strength. And letting your audience know that you get it is a thing of beauty, not shame. (How big is our President’s Cabinet? And our country was founded on that structure.)

Personally, I just signed up with a woman I am trusting to help me work on my own fear of success. Fortunately, she started our session by declaring that this issue is something experienced almost exclusively by high performers. As I continue to help others work through their resistances, I need to spend time in my own backyard dealing with mine. I’m a firm believer in not being able to take anyone further than you’re comfortable going yourself. I cannot limit my own imagination and expect others to expand theirs.

I am launching a new program next month for women like me. It will offer maximum support and accountability in an inspiring, safe and rigorous space. Click here to learn more. Hope to see you in March.

*National Speakers Association

heart app motivationWhat you focus on grows. What you measure grows.

Truer words could not be spoken when it comes to the heart app on my iPhone. I didn’t even know it was there until a few weeks ago when I had lunch with good friends from my Semester at Sea trip who pointed it out after I’d inquired about one’s fit bit bracelet. I knew I wasn’t going to shell out $100 for one of those. At which point her daughter said, “You don’t have to. Your phone counts your steps, even if you’re not aware of it.”

Now that I am, I find myself walking instead of taking the shuttle up to Broadway every morning. Knowing that I’m short 1500 steps at 5pm for my daily 10,000, I’m opting for walking versus hopping on the next bus or subway. This little app is making me happier and healthier by scoring me and recording my steps every day. My accidental accountability partner.

I’m a sucker for this kind of reinforcement. For health reasons, I knew I needed to let go of wheat and dairy. I began rewarding myself with a gold star for each day’s abstinence and didn’t want to mess up my three day streak. That was 8 years ago.

I’m a huge proponent of accountability as my goal buddy will attest. What serves you best? I promise that if you put out your desire/goal to another equally motivated partner and have a repeatable method for marking your progress, you’ll get to where you want to go with excitement, momentum and exhilarating results.

Michio Kushi – Brought Macrobiotics to US

I traveled to Boston over the weekend to attend the memorial service for Michio Kushi. According to the NYTimes obituary, Michio was “a Japanese scholar who popularized the macrobiotic diet in the United States, helping to change the way health-conscious Americans eat. He died on Dec. 28 in Boston. He was 88.”

Speakers from all over the globe traveled to the Arlington Street Unitarian Church and paid tribute to this man. The final eulogy was given by his youngest son, Hisao Kushi. I took notes.

Hisao talked about what it was like to have a father who saw health as a key to world peace. Imagine its affect on a child, especially when filling out an application for school or work.
“What does your father do?”

Long pause. A ripple of knowing chuckles from those gathered and attuned to intricacy of the issue.

“I’d write teacher. At the interview, they’d ask, ‘Where does he teach?'” Another pause, followed by a hesitant, “Europe?”

Michio lectured all over the globe. “Is he a professor?” More laughter now. His message was much bigger than a university classroom.

“Then,” Hisao continued, “I started saying author,” because his father had written many volumes on the subject. “What did he write?” was the natural follow-up interview question.

Again hesitation. “Your Face Never Lies.” Inside the macrobiotic world, this is a seminal book. To the general public, not so much.

“Eventually,” the son offered, “I would say that my father was a philosopher.” At which point the inquirer would be stumped. What follow-up question would you ask of someone with that response?

“If you asked me today,” he concluded, “I’d write dreamer. My father taught us to make sure that our life’s dream couldn’t be solved in our lifetime. But we could work on the fundamentals. The gift he gave us was the permission to dream big.”

Michio Kushi accomplished far more than the fundamentals in his lifetime. And there’s still work to be done. I’m grateful that he founded the Kushi Institute and that his caring family embody his message and dreams.

 

Lindsey Pollak at the 92nd Street Y

Lindsey Pollak at the 92nd Street Y

I attended a fabulous talk at the 92nd Street Y last night, not coincidentally conducted by my daughter, Lindsey. I thought I’d gotten a lot of this information through reading her book Becoming the Boss. But this time around my ears tuned in to other, well-described messages that keep replaying in my head.

Lindsey talked at length about the different generations in the marketplace today: the Silent Generation, Boomers, Gen X’ers and Millennials. She helped her audience made up mostly of Millennials (especially on the left side of the room) to understand the impact of their preferences on each other. Fascinating stuff!

What Lindsey reminded me of was the value this young and mighty (the largest generation yet) population brings, particularly their tech and social media skills which are vitally important in today’s business environment.

According to Lindsey:

When Jack Welch was CEO of GE in the 90s and the Internet was just ramping up, he insisted on having an intern or young mentor help him understand it.

Lindsey recommends to the companies she addresses in her talks that the CEO have what is now called a “reverse mentor.”

I remember when my daughter-in-law was traveling with the CEO of her company, clearly a highly successful gentleman who knew his industry backwards and forwards. But during their travels he needed cash and had not yet learned how to work an ATM, relying on his young associate, without whom he was helpless that Saturday in a remote city.

Same thing with us Boomers. We need our young staff and/or vendors to bring their formidable skills to us. In return, more than money, they’re looking for training and development, flexibility and experience. Lindsey made this abundantly clear in her articulate, fascinating, humorous and intelligent talk. (Even if I weren’t her mother I’d have thought so!)

 

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.

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