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Last week during a long car ride, a colleague told me that he had tons of ideas. Something about that phrase–tons of ideas–struck a chord. I hear a lot of people use it. The similarity among those who say that, and why I think it sticks out for me, is that many of them are not very happy. This is not a criticism, but an observation. They have lots of ideas, but they’re not acting on them.
Of course, I then thought about myself. Currently, I have two big ideas, one of which I’m pursuing with all my might. I’m planning a luxury spa retreat for women business owners who want to take charge of their own futures. I’m having a sneak preview event to help publicize it on Thursday, July 17th. I’m completely engaged in the process of developing this idea.
I have another idea waiting in the wings until this one is fleshed out and progressing. Then, I’m quite sure, I’ll dive into the next idea and have another one floating further in the future for when Idea #2 gets seeded.
I don’t have a lot of ideas, but the ones I have take up lots of my time and keep me incredibly happy.
All of my coaching groups are on hiatus for the summer. My speaking kicks back into high gear mid-September. Several individual clients are taking a break from coaching over the summer. So I scheduled a brainstorming session with myself to figure out how to best use the open spaces on my calendar.
I came up with a healthy list that may stimulate you as well.
- Go through files. As dull as this looks, I always find gems in my drawers–opportunities laying in wait.
- Review goals sheets from my Mastermind Groups for themes, successes and patterns.
- Re-visit marketing my Distinguished Speaker Series to other Chapters of ASID around the country.
- Go through entire database (3500+ names) and segment, delete and update.
- Send holiday cards. I choose to reach out to my friends, clients and associates in the summer when mine is the only card they’re receiving, not one of 100. Our daughter got married in April, so I will send a photo to everyone along with warm wishes.
- Create a video for my website.
- Design a teleclass offering for 2009.
- Brainstorm book ideas.
One of the cool things about this Grand Networking Event is that in addition to an hour of mingling time before the dinner, each attendee sits at 3 different tables and meets the 7 other women business owners at her table. There is a round-robin of self-intros so it’s more than just a card swap.
The question is, what do you do with all those cards, information and notes? Here’s my method:
I sort through the cards and immediately toss (sorry!) the ones selling products/services that aren’t of interest.
I put dates on my calendar to initiate calls with the women I want to spend more time with.
I sent a thank you and a gift to the speaker.
I enter information from business cards and notes I’d taken into my database increasing the resource base I’ve already established.
I look up everyone’s website and assess the maturity of the business: under construction or fully functioning with rich content.
I plan time on my calendar to write thank you notes to the committee chairs for their incredible service to this organization.
And, when those dates appear on my calendar, I honor the commitment I made to myself and dial the number or write the note.
I’m often asked what kinds of tasks I delegate to my Virtual Assistant (VA), Valerie. Clients and colleagues want to know exactly how a VA might save them time and money. I’ve long been an advocate of delegating any task that I can pay someone else to do while I spend my time doing the work that only I can do. So, here are a few of the items I recently took off of my desk and put onto Valerie’s:
~Send out email reminders to my current Mastermind Group participants letting them know what goals they need to be accountable for in our upcoming sessions.
~Handle all registrations and inquiries for upcoming day-long goals workshop
~Create a spreadsheet with contact information for attendees of the workshop
~Continuously pass on information to inquiring members of ASID who’ve seen my CEU (continuing education units) seminar on the ASID home page and want to know how to find out more about my course
~Update flyers for my fall Mastermind Group sessions
Valerie, who is adept at administrative details, can handle these jobs swiftly and efficiently. I tend to get sidetracked when I’m doing this kind of busy work, so it takes me longer than it should and distracts me from the work that is income-producing. The mantra here is stay productive, not just busy.
Looking for a VA? In addition to word-of-mouth referrals, try assistu.com.
I had pangs of jealousy and envy on Sunday night watching the Tony Awards on tv. Here were these amazingly talented people, who had worked collaboratively for years to produce Broadway shows, beaming on the stage of Radio City Music Hall as they received their trophies. There’s something so alluring about awards show. You don’t see the sweat, the rejection, the disappointments, the failed relationships (it’s looking grim, eh?) behind the beautiful outfits and smiles.
Then, the next day, I got something better than a Tony award. My son Rob was inducted into the New York Bar Association. He had invited my husband and me to attend the ceremony and have dinner together. We came into the city and went to the Supreme Court Appellate Division on Madison and 26th. I’ve never seen a more exquisite room–marble walls, gilded ceilings, hand-painted mural–nor such a distinguished assembly of young men and women who had achieved so much. I can’t even begin to describe the joy of this moment which underscored all that my son has achieved.
I remind myself through daily affirmations that I have everything I need and want. I also forget daily and have my head turned by the gilt and glamour of the shiny and new. The lesson is always to stay with myself and not to compare. By my own terms, I have exactly what I want in life, and that’s where true success lies.
As a table sponsor for the May EWN Grand Networking Event, I had the opportunity to contribute to the goody bag of each attendee. I brought that possibility as a challenge to my mastermind group members who made the brilliant suggestion that I give something educational, like one of my teleclass recordings.
I’d created an audio product a few years ago called How I Got on the Today Show which has been a popular seminar ever since. The sound quality was excellent (thank you Walt Graham), but I’d never paid any attention to the visual quality. With the upcoming goody bag prospect, I decided now was the time.
I put my graphic designer on it right away who came up with a compelling design for me. We went right into production–deadlines are great for moving into action mode–and printed 500 copies. As soon as I saw them I realized that attractive visuals are not only easier to sell, but also highly motivational. I want everyone to see these. They were well-received by EWN members, and I’m now bringing them with me when I speak and have sold several already. They’re also available on my site for $9.95 plus shipping/handling. http://www.janepollak.com/book_detail.asp?PageID=1074
Terri Lonier and I became friends while in the National Speakers Association and have continued our relationship as our own entrepreneurial businesses have grown and changed. She sends out a terrific weekly educational segment I highly recommend: Working Solo Minute.
What was most valuable to me recently was the introduction to a site call commoncraft.com which explains technology in a way that makes it easy to understand. I’d been hearing about wiki’s for some time now but could never get a clear explanation of what they are or how they work. After four minutes of watching the clever and simple animation on the commoncraft site, I get it. Not only that, I’ve started and used two since then–one for a personal group I’m in and another for a business community I coach. Try it, you’ll like it!
It may be possible to divide the world into those who do and don’t believe in The Secret. Starting with my marriage, we fall into the two different camps. I believe that if you can conceive and believe it–it being anything you want in your life, you can achieve it. Thank you, Earl Nightingale.
My husband sits squarely on the non-believing side. However, he does hear me out every once in a while. I’ve explained the concept of carrying around your goals, in writing, with you on a daily basis. That act alone has made enormous differences for me personally as I continue to meet my goals.
So this morning, after having had many frustrating outings on the golf course, he asked me again about this “thing” I do. I said, “Why don’t you write on a piece of paper, ‘I am a scratch golfer.’ and carry it around for the next 30 days?”
Clearly that was not going to happen. He said, “Why don’t you carry it around for me?!”
It doesn’t work that way.
I believe that doing the work of fulfilling your life’s goals and purpose is a radical act filled with scary moments–What if I actually get what I want?! He didn’t pursue the conversation any further.
Being aware of The Secret, for me, it’s the only way.
I scheduled a 30-minute slot on my calendar at 11am today to go to the Westport Public Library, visit the Reading Room where they have all the local newspapers and research how each one does its calendar listing. I’m promoting an event on July 17th that will lead up to a women’s business retreat at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA, early next year. I need this info for press releases and getting the word out to my community at large.
This kind of work is not my favorite thing to do. While I delegate a lot of admin stuff, this is a hands on project. I’d just come from meeting colleague Rebecca Hendrix, who runs incubators for Ladies Who Launch, for coffee which IS my favorite thing to do. The library is on the way home from Starbucks so I went because I had it in my plan for the day.
No sooner did I enter the Reading Room than I saw my good friend and colleague at work on a writing project. She asked what brought me there. With her years of background in PR she generously took a minute away from her current work to send me her list of contacts at each of the papers.
Some may call this a coincidence. I think not. I see it as an affirmation that I’m going in the right direction.
It’s often hard for entrepreneurs to toot their own horns. So when a client of mine created a mailing to go out to 100 clients and prospects, she ran out of steam after creating a terrific marketing letter, having it printed on beautiful, nice quality paper stock and coming up with her list.
She then did something I highly recommend when you get stuck. She asked for help. “My handwriting isn’t very good, and I’d like these to be handwritten.” Fortunately, when she said those words, the person sitting next to her, who has extraordinary handwriting (see image!) said, “I’ll help you.”
Sounds magical and it usually is. Asking for help is one of the hardest things we business owners are faced with. My experience, and what I’ve witnessed time and again, is that when you ask for help, it is delivered.
Because we’re isolated in our home offices and occasionally too proud to ask, we don’t experience the generosity of others. This is where networking plays a huge part. Put your requests out at your next industry meeting, lunch date or walk. It’s the asking that makes the difference. Prepare yourself to be surprised at the Universe’s delivery system.