massage

If you’ve ever had a massage, this is something the therapist will ask a few minutes into your treatment? Do you want her to press harder, or simply give your muscles a gentle workout?

It comes up in coaching as well. I have a new client who is balancing a burgeoning wellness practice with caring for a young child and the approaching summer vacation. When we first started our coaching relationship a few weeks ago, she said she’d like to use the next few months to lay a foundation for the corporate program she’ll be rolling out in the fall. She wanted to spend good quality time with her youngster and take advantage of the warm weather and its unique offerings.

Sounded like gentle pressure and a touch of accountability was all that was required to keep her thriving and on track. But, by our second phone conversation–and this happens all the time with my clients–opportunities were beginning to manifest. When you begin focusing in on what you really want to have in your life, the Universe complies in equal measure. And my client’s excitement level escalated with the concrete offer to submit a proposal.

Her child’s needs are still in the forefront, but the pressure now is how to carve out quality work time so she can have the outings, experiences and joy of a youngster’s exuberance while also pursuing business opportunities.

One of the tenets of my coaching training is that the client’s agenda is the most important thing. I’ve got the tools to apply more pressure or to hold back and listen for the deeper truths that lay beneath the surface. It’s good to check in with the people who hire you to find out if what you’re doing is working and if they want more or less pressure at a given time.

Robin Roberts at AARP in Miami Beach - May 2015

Robin Roberts at AARP in Miami Beach – May 2015

I had the privilege of hearing Robin Roberts keynote at the AARP event in Miami Beach last week. I’d seen her on the cover of their magazine recently, but since I’m not a TV watcher, had little idea of her immense influence as the co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America and as the most trusted woman on television (Readers Digest poll).

What makes her so trustworthy is that she has had the courage to break all the rules when she knew it was right to do so. She shared her breast cancer journey with viewers when she was diagnosed in 2007. And later with what resulted from the treatment of that cancer: a blood and bone marrow disease called myelodysplastic syndrome. She required a bone marrow transplant and was elated to discover (it happens only in 30% of cases) that her sister Sally Ann was a perfect match.

“Do you really want to do this?” Robin asked her.

“Not only do I want to do this,” she replied, “I was born to do this.”

And then she shared her memorable journey to find her mother, sister and nieces during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Communication lines were down, and she had no idea what she’d discover when she got to where her relatives lived. There was devastation all around, but the crew made its way down to Mississippi, and Robin knocked on the door. On some telepathic level her sister sensed that it was her on the other side of the door, and her mother, standing in the back of the house called out, “I knew you’d find us.” The mission to be sure her family was safe was more important than reporting about the storm, she shared unabashedly. Once she knew her family was safe and well, her report helped shed personal light on the catastrophic event for our whole nation. It wasn’t until Charlie Gibson asked her on the air how her family fared that she broke down and had what she called “the ugly cry” in front of the camera. Everyone rallied around her and the truth of that moment.

Throughout her talk her family and upbringing showed up strongly as her foundation. She talked about learning the 3 D’s from them: Discipline, Determination, and D’Lord.

When asked about her title as ‘most trusted woman on television,’ she slyly wondered out loud if some of her competition have friends outside the business. “My friends wouldn’t let me do some of the stuff they do on TV.”

A deeply spiritual woman, Robin’s advice is faith-based. “Put yourself in position,” she recommends. “Proximity is power.” After 15 years at ESPN, GMA came knocking.

She said, “God has three answers to your prayers–

  1. Yes!
  2. Not now..
  3. Have I got something for you!

 

Gail Berritt, Esq.

The mastermind group I facilitate met last Friday and were privileged to hear Gail Berritt, Esq. share legal essentials for small business owners. Each member of my group got to pose a specific question to Gail. Plus, Gail shared tips that applied to all of us.

Here are two of the most important.

  • Business owners must have ALL the passwords to their company’s website should anything happen to your developer, programmer or designer. Gail, in her position, has heard way too many sad stories of IT people who have disappeared, become ill, died or stopped answering the phone. It was a cautionary tale that had our members adding this to their to-do lists for Monday.
  • The default in law is that whoever creates your artwork/design/wording/photography etc. has the implied license for that work, unless it is explicitly written that they do not.

This came as a surprise to me and a few other women in the room. This information is invaluable to any business owner who assigns work for hire.

Gail recently served as a mentor for RefineryCT, an incubator for women business owners looking to scale their businesses. I felt very grateful to have Gail share her vast knowledge with my group as well.

picnic basketI’m enrolled in a new Memoir class this spring. Today’s assignment is to write about one of the deadly sins (I’ve selected three, overachiever that I am) and use it as a theme in a writing piece. I wanted to share it with you since it’s been a while since I’ve posted any personal work.

I’m not even sure when my parents became bosom buddies with the Redleafs. With such an unusual last name, I remembered it ever after.

They’d been invited by this couple to spend Memorial Day weekend at their house in the Hamptons. Excuse me. Quogue. Ritzier, I guessed.

Given my mother’s reverence for class, I wasn’t surprised to hear the effort she’d gone to assembling an impressive enough house gift.

“I had such a time finding a Wizard of Oz style basket which I knew would be perfect. I went to three department stores looking,” she said holding up three fingers, as though I couldn’t conceive of how many three was.

“I’d picked up hand-woven placemats at your last craft show, Janie. Remember those?” she asked, not waiting for my response. “I think I paid $25 for the set. I used them to line the basket. Then I found matching linen napkins that just made it all pop. So classic!”

She’d lost me at ‘your last craft show.’ The one she and Dad came to and barely stopped by my booth. I remembered that, not the f**king place mats.

“I convinced Dad that we should splurge and add a bottle of Veuve-Clicquot for mimosas, of course,” a distant voice hummed.

“Just before leaving on that Thursday, we drove into the city to Zabar’s. I knew I had to get the thinnest sliced nova and freshest bagels. It made quite the hit.”

I hoped against hope that this gift-buying frenzy would translate into something as meaningful and well-thought out for my upcoming birthday. I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

“Larry,” Mom ordered my father, “bring down the checkbook so we can give Janie her birthday gift. We can forego the card, I’m sure.” Turning towards me she added, “That’s okay, isn’t it, Sweetie?”

While I’d taught my kids from the time they could talk  to “use their words,” I was unable to speak, my throat thick with unexpressed rage. I got up and walked out before Dad came back.

 

fingernails

I spoke at a Young Alum conference at Mount Holyoke when I was a young alum now. One of the panelists offered us a memorable self-care quiz:

“Show me your hands.”

Go ahead. Look at yours right now. This is totally confidential.

Are you happy with how they look? Are your nails polished? Are they chipping, need the cuticles tamed? Clean?

Simply by looking at her friend Sue’s hands, she was able to tell if Sue was taking care of herself. This small detail speaks volumes and can be a clue as to how well we’re caring for ourselves. Others can’t see if you’re sleeping well or eating properly. But this tell-tale aspect of our public persona can be revealing.

jane's nails  I’ve had ‘mani/pedi’ on my to-do list for about 10 days now. I ended up clipping my own nails and putting on a top coat of nailtiques which I use to strengthen them. I’d had a mani/pedi while in Austin at the end of last month. I’m due, but can’t seem to put myself first for the hour or more it will take. I removed the metallic gold (!) I opted for on my toes in Texas, but have left them unpolished and in need of a trim. Fortunately, it’s not sandal season here…yet.

Now that I’ve outed myself on some needed self-care, I’ll look on my calendar to see when I can squeeze me in.

How about you? Any confessions today?

exclamation point sign

Leaving Hamilton College after his interview and tour of its campus, my son and I drove away just as a thunderstorm was clearing. “Mom, look! A rainbow,” Rob pointed through the windshield and upwards.

“It’s a double!” I replied excitedly.

“Do you think that’s a sign?” he asked.

“Oh, yes,” I nodded and grinned. His 15th reunion is coming up this spring.

He knows me well enough now to barely need to ask. Hiring a caretaker for his new son nearly two years ago, he told me that the referring parents’ names were Anne and Rob, exactly the same as his and my daughter-in-law Anne’s. “I’m sure you’re going to say it’s a sign.”

Again, I simply smiled. They’ve had the most wonderful woman tending Owen since they interviewed her.

One of my New York City friends has a business making signs. “It’s very simple and straightforward,” he explained. “A sign has no depth. It’s intended to give information quickly and succinctly. And it has to be perfect.”

Who are we to question what we see on our journeys? The nay-sayers can call it coincidence all they want. I’ve heard coincidence called God’s way of remaining anonymous. I choose to notice and give high regard to the signs in front of me and my clients.

Do you need a burning bush? What has been put in your path lately? I’d love to know.

 

As per your recommendations, here is the cropped version now featured on all my social media sites.

I don’t remember how this started, but someone told me that all of my social media photos should be the same. When I asked my newsletter helper which image I should choose, she suggested that I ask my friends and family. In other words, 2015-speak, put it up on Facebook and let the masses decide. “Crowdsource it.”

“Huh?”

Eager to check this updating task off my list, I posted these three photos for feedback. It’s been over four years since the last ones were taken. It was time.

I got over 125 comments. Most of them were a generous:

  • “You look great!”Jane against Ashley WEB
  • “The top one!”
  • “Love the smile.”

There were 40 votes for the one with the print top and taxicab in the background. Eighty-five votes for me in the purple (eggplant, aubergine…) suit. The purple wins.

I got equally confident votes for both:

  • “Hands down–the top one!”Jane Waist Up with TAXI - WEB
  • “The taxi says New York!”
  • “F@*# the shoulds!”

Besides all the wonderful attention I received, a colleague, Janet Granger emailed me asking for an interview. She has a new consulting business helping Baby Boomers be more digitally savvy, and wanted to feature me as a savvy Boomer. I accepted! I’ll post a link to our interview as soon as it’s live.

Thank you, ALL, for your interest, input and consideration. I couldn’t have done it without you.

This one got only 2 votes.

This one got only 2 votes.

mastermind room

My newest mastermind group started in midtown yesterday, and I found myself with six of the most dynamic, creative and inspiring women I know. While confidentiality is key to the success of the group, I can tell you that they all nodded in hearty agreement when I shared my thesis for success:

You need to be around people who aren’t pretending that everything is wonderful.

Everyone has issues. And even though this is a business group, it’s important to NOT disregard the emotional component of our lives. Whether it’s relationships, finances, health or feelings of invisibility, bringing these into the light of day helps to diffuse them so you can focus on the work at hand.

Often, these intimate groups are the only place some businesswomen have to even mention what’s flickering in the background.

Once aired and acknowledged, the sparks fly. Covered up, buried, or disregarded, issues fester, grow and metastasize.

Here’s to saying what’s true for you and moving forward. The saying goes, “you’re only as sick as your secrets” whether it’s personally or professionally. Let ’em rip and carry on.

The goals set yesterday are inspiring and growth-producing. My favorite response to a suggested goal is, “Really?!” followed by a huge grin and a look of joy. Really!

I’ve never met Madie Hodges, but I like her already.

As the Community Manager for Kabbage (which I’d never heard of until she introduced herself), she’d found my blog on the internet and reached out to suggest a topic for my posts: “How can entrepreneurs use their tax refund to grow their business? What items do you think they should put on their shopping list? Coaching and consulting?” (This is where she got my full attention.)

I’m more interested in analyzing how to connect virtually than in promoting Kabbage, but am happy to mention them as the catalyst to this message. It’s juicier and more interesting a subject. Don’t you think?

What did Madie do to get my attention?

  • She addressed me by name vs. Madam, which believe it or not, happens frequently.
  • She said, “you seem to really understand what it takes for businesses to succeed” – Flattery. It works. I received a similar pitch from a website that helps people in their career advancement and was asked to post about job interviews. Not my realm. Helping small business owners succeed is.
  • She introduced herself concisely and with a specific request: “I thought a fun twist would be using a tax refund to jump-start growth.”
  • She made an offer, if I were interested, to send more ideas.

I responded immediately that I would write something and mention Kabbage. A few days went by, and I had not posted yet. Madie followed up with a gentle reminder and encouragement: “Do you have a posting date in mind? I’d love to put it in my calendar so I don’t miss it. I can’t wait to read what you put together.” Note the positive, warm messaging.

My intentions were so good, but writing about what to do with your tax returns doesn’t fly to the top of my to-do list. This morning, in my inbox, was this message: “Wink, nudge, giggle. Hope you had some fun while out of town!” I had let her know I’d be in Texas for a few days and would write the piece when I returned. I want to please someone who shows this much interest and takes actions to make something happen.

I hope you’ve gleaned as much about social media networking here as about how to use your hopefully large tax return to grow your company.

If you’d like more help in that department, go to Kabbage. If they hired Madie, they know what they’re doing.

race runners swift urgency

Do you ever compare yourself with someone else? And attribute a higher grade or extra credit to those whom you perceive as better, faster, or more successful than you?

I do. All the time.

That’s why I was so relieved when I spoke to my coach (after a long hiatus) who calmed me down, brought me back to my square 1, and reminded me that I’m not in a race. “Your urge has become an urgency,” she said, which led to a greatly needed exhalation.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

In my office developing a retreat, working on my memoir or coaching a client, I’m at peace and feeling blissful. Then, I’ll get an email, see a Facebook post or read an article that puts me into a tailspin. That I’m not there yet. My memoir is not on the New York Times Bestseller List. Funny that I should concern myself with that since it’s not even written yet.

Seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s segment on CBS Sunday Morning helped me to identify and also to relax. He had randomly picked up Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton several years ago and devoured all 700+ pages of it. Midway through his reading he wondered why no one had yet made a musical out of this man’s story. Not just a musical, but a hip-hop musical, then busied himself for the next six years to create one. Hamilton opened to rave reviews at the Public Theatre and is moving to Broadway in July. Miranda is not even rushing its opening to try to get into the Tony race for Best Musical. He’s taking his time.

I call this genius. Not only coming up with the idea, but more important, bringing it to fruition and not being blindsided by urgency. Sticking with your urge is one of the hardest aspects of soul proprietorship. I believe that our urges, our inspirations and the coincidences in our lives/businesses are divinely given. They feel different. At least mine do. I feel a sensation in my body, like a spark. Energy.

What often happens is that the energy is sapped by things like, oh, comparing oneself to the competition or anyone I perceive of as ahead of you.

The solution? Stay in action. Our gremlins–those voices that say very loudly, “You’re not enough!”–get very quiet when we’re busily engaged. Mine are particularly adept at coming out when I think I’m engaged with…social media.

My main job, your main job, is to remind yourself to stick with your urges. Bring them to fruition. Resist the temptation of “oohh, shiny!” and stay with the everyday work of respecting your inner wisdom. I have many people in place, like my coach especially, to remind me of that biblical adage:

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.

Make the most of your time and chance. They will come.

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