Bad Energy Environment

I rarely use this forum to rant, but after attending and presenting at an unnamed event recently, I have to get some stuff off my chest.

I paid for the opportunity to speak at a holistic trade show based on an esteemed colleague’s positive experience. She’d had a good turnout for her talk and signed up several audience members for her services after she presented.

The show I agreed to participate in was not in the same location. Can you hear your realtor’s mantra here-LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION? The one I spoke at was in Fort Lee, NJ, a hop, skip and a jump over the GW Bridge. Seemed like a worthy destination, but the energy of the hotel and everything approaching its entrance was, how can I put this delicately…gross.

The facility itself is part of a decent chain, but leading up to that address were three motels in a row that looked like this image. I could feel my good energy draining out of the soles of my feet.

When I got to the ballroom area where my talk would be, I quickly recognized the organizer and went up to her to introduce myself. I was one of 9 speakers at the event and had had lengthy correspondence with her about logistics and placing a full page ad in the program. Turned out, I was the only one who had made the $100 investment. It featured a photo of me and copy about my website and services.

“Hi, Paula,” I smiled. “I’m Jane Pollak.” I waited for a moment of recognition. None was forthcoming.

“And you are…?” she asked blankly.

“I’m one of your speakers,” I filled in.

“Oh,” she said consulting her spreadsheet. “Yes, you’re in the blah-de-blah room at 1:15pm.”

She had promised a screen so I could show a short video clip. I’d brought my laptop and projector. When I asked her where the screen would be, she pointed at the beige folding wall on the side of the room and said, “That’ll have to do. There’s no screen.”

I walked around the trade show, hoping to be inspired by the quality of vendors and professionals, but felt more of my spirit disappearing bit by bit.

Maybe the speakers before me will be exciting, I hoped. I took notes to capture the ineffectiveness of the two I heard. Phrases like “this could kind of be” and “they heal certain things” and “people have reported that they’re more fulfilled” set the hairs on the back of my neck on end.

While my friend, the recommender, had had 30 attendees in her audience, I had a grand total of nine, none of whom resembled any of my clients. Their expressions were vague, barely making eye contact with me. One gentleman, who came in with about six minutes remaining in my speech, stayed after as I was packing my things.

“Why do you think parents do that to their children?” he inquired, referencing a line I mention in my closing story about my mother’s insistence that no one would ever pay for one of my pieces of art. He then invited me to speak at his meet-up group on toxic parents. His smile revealed no teeth, but he was a Ph. D. from an Ivy League school. I asked if he had a business card. He offered me a sheet of paper with his credentials on copier paper.

Normally, at an event that I’m participating in, I would stick around, meet more of the people and thank the organizer. After this one, I just wanted to get out of the building.

What did I learn? I had a sense early on that this would not be at the level of professionalism I am used to and desire. I could have trusted my gut, forfeited the small fee I’d been charged and written it off completely. My companion that day, who made the whole thing even tolerable, mentioned that he had visited the organization’s Facebook page. He noted that there were 900 invited guests and only 17 had accepted the invitation.

I was glad he told me that after I’d already left.


I hailed a taxi on a cold and rainy Friday morning. I was leaving town for the first session of my newest Mastermind Intensive.

I had a chatty cabby.

“Where are you heading?” he asked when I told him to take me to Grand Central.

“To Connecticut.”

“What do you do there?”

“I lead a group of women,” I replied.

“Oh, are you a tour guide?”

Kinda, I thought to myself.

Last Friday I conducted the first session of a yearlong program with 8 remarkable women business owners. The opening exercise I led them through was for them to envision themselves a year from now: what they’d achieve, how it would feel, how much money would be in the bank and how many customers, accounts or whatever they’re counting they would have. The excitement level set the tone for the rest of the day.

My job is to get them to that vision during our time together.

During my brief ride in the cab, I learned that my driver was 75, that he’d never really been in love, but there was this woman he met at the Art Students League whom he was now sweet on. He went on and on about how the value of the taxi medallion had gone from $1 million to $800,00 and that cabbies are defaulting on their loans because of the competition from Uber, etc. and that it’s all the Taxi and Limo Commission’s fault.

Made me think he needs a group where he could process all this and be empowered like the women I work with.

I’m so grateful to be leading women who are positive, forward-thinking, successful and pro-active. I’d be thrilled to take them anywhere, but starting with their futures is exciting for right now.

Carmen Lund

I received the most wonderful testimonial from my friend and colleague Carmen Lund. She’s making a remarkable offer which evolved out of our work together. Here are Carmen’s words:

Several years ago, I had the good fortune to learn about Jane and her work with women interested in becoming entrepreneurs. For most of my adult years, I have been an artist who exhibits my work but also teaches. I wanted to continue with my work but to find a way to use it as a foundation for working with women who were in transition and who needed guidance and support.

When I connected with Jane, I immediately felt that she would help me marry my creative background and my experience in the arts as a stepping off point to working with individuals who were looking to LEAP! into creating a new chapter for themselves using their gifts and experiences.

Working with Jane enabled me to focus. I tend to get too many ideas and can easily go off track. She held my feet to the fire. This accountability was a key element in my personal development.

Each week our group presented what we had accomplished and got feedback from the other women as well as Jane. The atmosphere Jane set up was one of both encouragement and support. It felt safe and non-judgmental which allowed for risk and experimentation. She always had a tangible suggestion for moving forward the next week. I liked having my next steps set out for me.

Over the years, since meeting Jane, I have watched her as she not only encourages and supports others, but also continues to grow herself. She walks her talk! Her can-do example is an inspiration to me. Jane listens and coaxes one’s thoughts, which is key. Her listening.

As a result of Jane’s coaching, I have been able to find a way to use my art experience beyond teaching and painting. I use my background, but have added to it to support women to “re-discover their magic” — to “color outside the lines.”

Here is what Carmen is up to now.

Levin's Graduation Party

A Storyboard Scene from Jane’s Memoir

A woman I know just called me to say, in short, that she was paralyzed. She teaches art classes, has a beautiful facility to offer them in, has raised her prices and has open time on her calendar. But she can’t pull the trigger and get new dates up and out to her audience.

What is stopping her?

As I work on my memoir, I’m discovering that every issue I’ve faced in my personal life is reflected in my professional activities. I’m offering a series of 3 workshops, starting this coming Monday night, that will specifically address the impact of the personal on the professional.

At the first workshop, September 28 from 6 – 8pm you will Identify the Challenge, get clarity on the stumbling block in front of you, understand what needs to be said or done and be inspired to take the next action.

When you listen to someone else’s story, personal or professional, there is always identification. “I do that.” “That scares me, too.” “Ah! That’s what happened to me.” That will be the basis of these programs. An experiential activity will set the stage for our discussion and your insights.

I’ve been examining my personal and work history and have discovered patterns of behavior that I have successfully reversed. If you’re feeling a bit stuck, want a shot of motivation, or simply desire connection with other positive women seeking growth, please join me next week.

I gave a sample reading of my memoir to a dozen women earlier this month. I, too, had become stuck. Offering it in this version was exactly the step I needed to take in my own creative development. I got re-energized and can’t wait to share my excitement with you!

Join me this coming Monday night at 6pm in Westport. See you then.

awaken fair prep equipmentMichael Gerber writes in his book The E Myth that business owners should take time to work on their business, not only in the business. I could feel him breathing over my shoulder today as I began my final preparation for a speaking engagement this Sunday.

“You should take the time to write down all the steps you’re taking so that you don’t have to re-invent the process each time you speak,” whispered the voice. “You never know which doo-hickey you need to connect the laptop and the projector. If you write it down and label them, it will take you longer this once, but then, the next time, it will be 1, 2, 3.”

The first job was locating the doo-hickey. I have a ‘technology’ drawer where I keep cords and connectors. That’s helpful. But I wasn’t sure which one goes with the MacAir I bought a year ago. After trying three different ones, I found the right one in the backpack where I store my LED projector. That meant I didn’t have to make a special trip to the Apple store to buy a new one. Are you recognizing any of your own patterns here, or is it just me?

Once I got everything connected, plugged in and turned on, I still wasn’t getting the image I wanted on the screen. There’s a sequence you have to follow, and I can never remember whether you have to turn the computer on only after it’s connected to the projector or vice versa. For a moment I considered having the attendees crowd around my computer screen instead and have them watch the video I want to show that way. Ever want to take a shortcut??Awaken fair projector signage

Eventually, with the help of a youtube tutorial, I got it all working. Heeding Gerber’s wisdom, I now have a step-by-step sheet saved in my SPEAKING folder so that next time, it’ll be 1, 2, 3.

Want to hear what else I have to share with Soul Proprietors? Join me this Sunday at 1:15pm in New Jersey.



Jim Blasingame – The Small Business Advocate

I had a scheduled radio interview with The Small Business Advocate, Jim Blasingame this morning. He reminded his audience and me, that I’ve been part of his Brain Trust for 7 years now. It’s been over a year since I’ve been able to be on this show. We’ve gotten to know each other primarily by phone. Once, when he was in the city for a small business conference, he treated me to a lovely dinner, so we’ve met other than virtually too.

Before going live on the show this morning, he talks to the guest off-line. “How are you, Jim?” I asked. To which he always responds, “Better now!” And I always laugh. “It’s been awhile, Jane,” he noted before we went on the air. Here’s what knocked me out. His next question was, “How are Chloe and Owen doing?”

Those are my precious 4-year old and 2-year old grandchildren. My mouth dropped open and my heart got bigger.

It takes a very caring person to have that information at their fingertips. The best I could do was to ask after his grandchildren. I know he’s got a bunch of little boys that he’s crazy about, but I’ve never jotted down their names or anything.

“Oh, they’re great,” he said. “Hurricane, Tornado, Crash and Trainwreck. I had Crash over this weekend…” the story unfolded. You have to love a guy like this.

By the way, here’s the link to the interview where we covered crowd-sourcing and Mastermind Groups. I completed the yearlong intensive I’ve been leading last Friday, started a 7-session Creative Mastermind yesterday and will launch the next Intensive on October 2. I have the most wonderful women business owners who inspire me and each other to greater success.

My first studioI was going through My Scans folder and paused when I got to some unlabeled images that had been sitting there for quite awhile. This one really took me back. It was labeled “My First Studio” and is a counter in the kitchen of the house I lived in in Norwalk.

In the evenings, and during my kids’ nursery school hours in the daytime, I’d sit and decorate eggs on the flat surface sticking out underneath which a stool could go. You can see my dyes on the bottom shelf and the wire rack which held important papers. That was all I needed at the time.

It was actually my second studio. I’d been working on the dining room table of my first apartment in Stamford before that, but hardly considered myself a business owner back then.

As my business grew, I needed more space and eventually shared space with my husband in the family playroom. studio before renovation

Then, one day, I attended an Entrepreneurial Women’s Network luncheon, sat next to an architectural designer, and made the decision to really invest in my company by committing to a renovated, well-designed home studio. Here is the transitional photo while I worked out of the living room:

studio in living roomWhen it was complete, I had areas of the room dedicated to design, a space where workers could be in the room with me at their own desks, a shipping section, a sink for mixing dyes, a cutting box for making the jewelry pieces and a corner table for computer work.

My current requirements are minimal now as life becomes increasingly paperless and my work is centered on the phone and computer. I often conduct business with only my laptop and cell phone.

Jane at cutting boxAs this new ‘semester’ of work begins, I’d be curious to hear about your workspace needs and alterations. It’s freeing to pare down or design up. Where are you on that continuum?

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 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.


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