Gail Berritt, Esq.

My trademark came up for renewal recently, and I turned to Gail Berritt about the pro’s and con’s of protecting my brand. She has over 25 years in the legal profession, so when she speaks, I listen.

You can have the opportunity to hear her talk about Legal Issues for Small Business at the Westport Public Library a week from Tuesday, September 8 at 10am. What I love about Gail is her no-nonsense approach to matters that would bog me down for days or weeks. “Should I, shouldn’t I?” would flounder in my head. A five minute conversation with Gail, followed by her astute analysis in writing, put all of my fears to rest as she laid out the landscape for all perspectives of my concern.

With her counsel, I chose not to renew my trademark. Saved me a lot of money, effort and sleepless nights to have had her help on this one. I made an informed decision and feel at peace.

Scene from mid-70's

Scene from mid-70’s

I received the storyboard drawings of scenes from my memoir created by Fabricio on Monday. I feel propelled even further along my writing journey as a result of taking that step–hiring someone to listen to my story and paying him to render it for me visually.

I see what a big part asking for help played in the process. I no longer feel stuck and clearly know now what my next step is: begin sharing my story with a trusted few.

Like Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame and Julie Powell who blogged about cooking recipes by Julia Child and posted daily about her process (notice how well it worked for them), I would like to share part of my process with you. I’ve published a few personal entries along the way and received positive encouragement and support.

It’s scary to put your work out to the public. I’m ready for another level of risk: to tell my story to a chosen few, before going to a publisher and the world.

Here’s what feels right to me now. I’d like to share an overview of my memoir with you (the willing) via a conference line and visuals, to find out:

  • What holds your interest~
  • What you want to hear more of~
  • What can be omitted~
  • What confuses you~
  • What inspires you~
  • What I might title this work (I’ve come up with 100 possibilities on my own)~

You may be asking, as a dear friend who I shared this idea with did, what’s in it for you? Good question! Here are the benefits I can think of:

  • You’ll the first one on your block to hear this work.
  • You will be a witness to the process of a writer-in-progress.
  • Inspiration for your own project, especially you writers and memoirists~
  • Hear a story of transformation.
  • Receiving my endless appreciation~

If you’d like to be one of a dozen or so listeners, here are the specifics:

Tuesday, September 8th – 7 – 8pm
Live call-in of my story illustrated by slide images, working title After the Picket Fence.

To sign up and become part of the conversation, please send me an email at jane@janepollak.com indicating your interest. I’ll send you the necessary info for attending. There is no charge, of course.

NY Times Photo of Foo Fighters

I may be the last person on earth to have the Foo Fighters enter my awareness, but now I’ll never forget them. The NYTimes has an article in today’s paper with a most heartwarming story and links to a video request and response that are unforgettable.

I often challenge clients to reach out to their idols, whether it’s for a book endorsement or an invitation to attend a re-imagined menu event. It’s a scary prospect.

In this article a young man from Italy, who wanted the Foo fighters to come play in his hometown, took on the feat of organizing 1000 bands to play a song by their idols and, on camera, begs the group to come. I was the 19,363,285th viewer of their video request.

David Grohl of the Foo Fighters said, responded to the plea, in Italian, “We’re coming!”

It took the gentleman who organized the ASK a year to put it together. This is a reminder to do whatever it takes to get what you are passionate about. Now over 19 million people know who this guy is, which can’t be bad AND, the Foo Fighters are coming to give a concert. Remember, it’s the journey, and what a good time they’ve all had.

storyboard move to NYC

My Storyboard Illustration

I follow the breadcrumbs in my life.

I was feeling stuck last week after writing another chapter of my memoir.

Now what? Where do I go from here? What’s my theme? Will anybody care?

Fortunately, I had had a conversation with a friend last Sunday who mentioned a storyboard artist he has worked with.

I need a storyboard artist,” I exclaimed. “Would you share his information?”

Ned* put me in touch with Fabricio, whom I met soon after at Starbucks on 5th and 35th. Let me just say that this was a leap of faith. Could I tell this 30-something young man from Uruguay my story and have him make visual sense of it?

I had done my own version of a storyboard illustrated above. When I saw a sample of Fabricio’s work, I knew it would help me visualize my timeline more clearly.

Fabricio's Sample Illustrations

Fabricio’s Sample Illustrations

Fabricio listened attentively as I walked him through my stick-figure drawings. He asked questions about the cast of characters, the places where scenes took place and the order of events I was outlining. It was easy to talk to him, as he nodded, concurred and emphasized points I was making.

I felt a strong connection and was feeling great about having him work on this project with me. It helped that at the end of our meeting, Fabricio told me that I reminded him of his wife’s aunt. Before we’d met, I’d sent him a photo of me so we could find each other at a busy coffee house. He’d shown the image to his wife. “Does she look like anyone you know,” he asked her.

“My whole family,” she replied.

He then found an image of the relative on his phone, and I had to agree, there was a strong resemblance. Beyond the creative and human connection I’d already sensed, it was deepened by this unseen force acting in my life as well.

I flew out of that Starbucks and have been on a memoir high ever since.

*not his real name

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin

AARP, The Magazine, has a 2-page spread in their June/July issue featuring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on their What I Know Now page. Here are some excerpts from the article I found particularly worth sharing:

Lily: Everything I’ve experienced has gone into my material.

Jane: I’m not someone who dwells on regrets, but it was a terrible mistake sitting on the anti-aircraft [gun in Vietnam]. It was wrong.

Jane: It never occurred to me in 70 years that kindness was important in a relationship. Fascination, sex appeal, intelligence, yes. Why aren’t we taught that kindness matters?

Jane: I get anxious. I worry that I’m not good enough.

Lily: What did Pablo Casals say? In his 90s, he still gave the same answer when someone asked why he continued to practice cello every day. He said, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”

I am always moved when I read about highly successful people expressing the same feelings that I have, making similar choices and humbly admitting their errors and their fears. I consider it a gift. I’ve been told by more than a few colleagues, “Don’t show them your weaknesses.” But more and more, I believe it’s a gift to share what’s true for me so that someone else can feel less alone as I did after reading this interview.

oscar graphic About once a week I receive an unsolicited request from a business owner or company that finds my blog material compatible with their message–someone who wants to contribute a guest post or insert a link into my text. Mostly, I decline.

I’m very protective of YOU, my readers, and want to maintain your interest and loyalty by staying on task with my message.

Last week I heard from a company and immediately thought, “Ding, ding, ding!” Here’s something that is so timely for me, surely others out there will appreciate and benefit from its message. August 1st is National Girlfriends Day sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection with the emphasis on getting women’s health in order.

Just a day or two before receiving the invitation to promote this cause, I’d had lunch with a good friend in the city. At the end of our meal, she leaned across the table and said, “I have a funny request.”

“Go for it,” I replied. It’d be hard to surprise me, I thought.

“Would you be my colonoscopy buddy? I want to schedule one soon and need a friend to be there when I’m through to escort me home.”

Unbeknownst to her, I’d just received a memo from my doctor letting me know I was due for my own exam. I had still been married at the time of the last one, so a default driver was in place. Things change when you’re divorced (or widowed, or single) and her request was touching and timely.

Is there a check-up in your future? Take the risk of reaching out to a girlfriend. She may need you more than you know.

hands receivingLessons are coming at me so fast and furiously these days, I’m surprised they’re not labeled so I can keep them in order. If today’s was, it would be entitled: How to Receive

Much to my chagrin, I’m being offered seats on busses and subways more and more lately. My inclination is to say, “No, thanks. I’m not that old. I’m doing fine. It’s only one more stop.”

Until I heard someone remind me, that if someone offers you a gift, take it.  Saying ‘no’ won’t reinforce the generosity in the giver’s heart. Accept the gift, and let go of your pride.

I’m speaking primarily to myself. If anyone out there can also benefit, I’m thrilled.

Today I made a request of someone to help me with my memoir. It’s finding its form and needs some professional guidance. I know one woman, for whom I have the utmost respect, who I wanted to hire for that work. I called her today, proposing that I pay her a sum for her to help me get it into order.

“I would like to do this for you for free,” she responded. “You’ve been a good friend, and I’d consider it a privilege to help you in this way.” (I’m paraphrasing because I was so gobsmacked I can’t remember exactly what the words were.)

I accepted the offer and will meet with her later this week to turn over a 2″ thick manuscript. I have to remind myself to breathe in order to take in this level of generosity.

For years, decades really, my response would’ve been, “No! I have to pay you. I can’t accept this!” And then I noticed that I was getting fewer and fewer offers of kindness.

I’m watching that trend turn around and know that the difference is my attitude. How to receive? Say “yes.” It’s that easy, and will make a difference to you, the giver and the world.

 

Creative Mastermind Spring 2015

Creative Mastermind Spring 2015

I was listening to a podcast that is relatively new for me called the Unmistakable Creative. Srini Rao is the host. One of my entrepreneurial mentors, Terri Lonier, introduced me to this informative and intimate series a few months back, and I’m loving it.

Yesterday I heard Srini interview Jen Louden, a personal hero of mine, who single-handedly started the self-care movement which is so widespread, no one even realizes that someone was the first to name it: Jen.

There were many take-aways from their conversation, but the one that hit home particularly was the value of the Mastermind. Jen has been in one for years and attributes much of her professional development to the wisdom and encouragement she receives (and gives). I was in one for almost 20 years and have recently become part of a 3-woman forum here in the city which met last night. I heartily concur with the necessity of this component to a successful business life.

Plus, my first NYC-based Mastermind, one of several I lead, ended on Monday after 7 sessions. Here are the beautiful, creative and generous women who participated both in person and virtually. Those smiles are testimony to not only their deep affection for each other, but also for how happy they were with the results of their time together.

I reminded each of them of the goals they’d committed to in April and how far they’d come in three short months–well beyond expectations.

I want to echo Jen’s appreciation for and recommendation of the Mastermind concept. We need other people to reflect back to us our own glory and path in this world, our unique gift.

I’m grateful to be able to hear this message spoken so eloquently through media that is non-traditional. Jen’s message strongly echoed my sentiment that it’s NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. If you need to hear that articulated in a way that will touch your heart, here’s the link to Finding the Thread of our Deepest Desires.

melissa petro

Melissa Petro – Memoir Instructor at Gotham Writers Workshop

In my final class at Gotham Writers Workshop this week, my very smart instructor Melissa Petro, gave us the rundown on getting published. Among the crowd in the room, we listed nearly 40 magazines we might pitch with our articles.

Melissa reminded us, “Know your market!”

When asking Elisa Balabram, a small business coach and classmate, whom she might pitch, the response was “Inc.

Ink?!” Melissa inquired, thinking it was the tattoo (check out her amazing tatts in the photo) periodical (acutally, it’s Inked).

Elisa and I caught eyes as we share a passion for women-owned small businesses. “I-N-C,” we spelled out, almost in unison.

Melissa gave us a huge smile and a nod of recognition that, indeed, we knew our market. And that it was different than hers.

If you’re interested in getting your non-fiction published in magazines, Melissa is offering a Pitch Party in July. You will walk away with a polished cover letter and a ton of inspiration.

Read the rest of this entry »

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