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Since last Monday I have gathered with twelve different groups, five of which I created. I call this walking my talk because I believe it’s vitally important to spend more time than ever in the midst of positive people. The group pictured above was taken Monday night at an Artsy Girls event. These are all women who have been nationally recognized for their creativity. Our hostess was Liz Ball who makes entertaining 30 women look easy.
In addition to this Artsy Girls dinner party I began two different sections of my new offering: Transformation through Transition. They were both exciting and energizing for me and the participants.
Last Thursday a group of 30 women gathered for a special networking program. I heard today from one of the attendees that she already has two follow-up appointments with people she met there that night. I love that!
Although these all take a lot of time and effort on my part, I come away feeling totally energized and satisfied. I hope I’m convincing you to create a gathering or two. It’s good for you and for your business.
I’m also curious to know what other kinds of offerings you’d like to see. One of my favorite clients (and friends) put in a request for a Mastermind Group for business partners to attend together. I love the idea. What would you like to see? Or, is there a better time or day for you to attend?
I held my first ever paid networking event last Thursday night, which was graciously hosted by Jill Jaysen of Center Stage Theatre Company in Westport. We were at capacity - 30 women business owners attending.
I have an exceptional database of entrepreneurial women to offer this to and who recognize the value of increasing their spheres of influence. What I provided was the recipe for success — an opportunity for them to have that access in a highly structured way.
What I find missing and frustrating about a lot of networking events is that although the people you want to meet may be in attendance, you aren’t able to get ‘face time’ in the brief two-hour period. At my program, each woman introduced herself to the group in a 45-second commercial so all could put a name and company to a face and voice. Everyone had the chance to identify each other and several occasions to interact. Then we broke up into small groups for more in-depth talk.
Here’s the exact recipe I used:
- 30 women entrepreneurs
- a location that allows for seating 30 in a circle
- space to break into smaller groups
- light snacks and beverages
- 30 minutes of an ice-breaking activity (networking bingo)
- 30 minutes of self-introductions
- 2 30-minute sessions of small group sharing — challenges/feedback
Jane’s Special Sauce: A database of remarkable women, a desire to share that resource plus a count-down timer and a velvet-gloved iron hand.
I remember in my early parenting days hearing moms complain that all their two year old would eat was hot dogs and spaghetti. I tried to picture the toddler shopping at the A & P and filling his cart with Hebrew National franks and Ronzoni pasta. Of course, I’m being facetious. While the child wasn’t in charge of the groceries, it appeared he was in charge of the adult.
I frequently hear my clients bemoaning the fact that there’s just not enough time to do what they really want to do–write, create, work on their marketing materials, etc.–because of the other demands on their lives. When I dig a little deeper, which I always do, I find that these clients are putting secondary priorities ahead of what they say they really want.
It’s fine to go for physical therapy, show up for your child’s teacher conference and take care of an ailing family member. We all have those necessities to attend to. What I strongly urge, though, is that you set aside sacred time for what is important to you and honor that so the car repairs, dentist’s appointments and grocery shopping are not done during your best working hours.
In a session yesterday, a client of mine with a global idea, just committed to spending 8 hours a week on research. That means that she may choose to go to the library each Sunday from 1-5pm in addition to finding one hour four times a week for this piece of her business development. By July she will have spent 64 hours digging into the topic she’s passionate about and will undoubtedly have increased her expertise exponentially.
After she experienced the feeling of having all that time for exploration, she said, “Maybe I’ll give up that tennis game we talked about earlier.” Her priorities and mission became clearer and she realized that she was in charge of how quickly her dream might become a reality.
If you find yourself thinking, it’s not happening fast enough, I’m not where I want to be, and everything else is taking priority in my life, you might want to ask yourself who’s spending your time.
That title’s a little misleading. I actually learned a lesson last week and had it reinforced by hearing a story about Lauren Bacall this week.
I was invited to be included as part of a new web presence, which shall remain nameless, if I acted quickly and got in on a pre-launch opportunity. The publicist for the project asked if I would provide content in exchange for crossing links, having banners and buttons that connected our sites. It was going to be the next big thing.
I’m making it seem less inviting than it originally sounded to me. I was immediately gung-ho, but had a lot of questions. I wasn’t clear on exactly who these people were and what it would look like to join forces. The publicist for the organization was my contact person. She made it all seem most important and urgent. I had big questions marks swirling between me and the opportunity.
I called in help. Two of my most net savvy colleagues were willing to spend time with me investigating and tracking this organization on the Web. I also called my daughter Lindsey for whom I have the utmost respect. She gave me great advice:
“Mom, if you don’t really understand it and aren’t really excited to link up with them, don’t do it.”
Oh. I had thought if someone pursued you and made it sound really, really exciting, you should jump in. But it didn’t feel right, and Lindsey nailed it. I passed on the offer.
Then on Monday night at our mastermind group meeting, Mary Ellroy shared a Harvard Business School case study she remembered from the late 70′s. They reported that Ford Motors had hired Lauren Bacall to enhance the image of one of their models, the Ford Fairlane. It did raise the public’s image of the car, but had the opposite effect on Bacall’s reputation which was diminished by the association.
I’ll wait for google or amazon to make me an offer…
Having coffee with coaching colleague Susie Horgan is always a dynamic experience. We get together every few months to touch base, compare notes and get inspired. But last Friday’s meeting at Starbucks was particularly charged.
We danced around current projects, future visions, family updates and the world. When we hit on the topic of the 47-year old British talent discovery, Susan Boyle (click her name to see her performance), the sparks really flew. Susie was so excited about the impact of this woman’s arrival on the scene that she plans to add the youtube video to her site.
Skeptic that I am, I had my doubts. I watched Charles Van Doren scam the American public answering the $64,000 question. I still wonder if Candid Camera is setting me up and am suspect of most things commercial. I couldn’t fully believe this woman wasn’t a make-over in reverse out to fool the American/British Idol masses. She seemed too poised and talented to have come out of nowhere.
But Susie won me over. Having been in the entertainment industry for decades, Susie explained the evidence of Boyles’ amateurishness–the way she held the mike, for instance. What completely enchanted Susie, that my suspicion blinded, was this woman’s sheer tenacity and belief in her dream. That she did whatever was necessary in pursuit of that vision.
Without minimizing this woman’s amazing achievement, I said to Susie, “That’s what my clients do on a weekly basis. They set powerful goals for themselves and take huge, scary steps to achieve them, day in and day out.”
Susie reminded me that this country and the world are hungry to witness these “ordinary people” miracles. I forget how extraordinary it is because that’s the world I inhabit daily. Lucky me!
Although I don’t like to admit this out loud, now is actually a good time to make a confession given the state of the world economy. I have trouble spending money. I would rather have money than spend it.
I prefer to have a large bank account and watch the interest grow. Remember those good old days? Except now, as the weather turns nice, many spending opportunities are calling my name and my bank account.
In times like these I turn to my team of financial advisers whom I’ve entrusted with my economic issues for many years now. They have never steered me wrong. I called them today for a brief phone meeting and came up with solutions that feel abundant. (One client of mine said she asks for help on any financial decisions that entail a comma in the numbers. That’s a good point of reference for me, too.)
After discussion of all my assets I got approval from my team to enroll in an intensive 8-month educational program which requires a hefty down payment and subsequent monthly installments. I’ll submit that application May 1.
I talked to them, also, about my invigorating and restorative experience last year at the Golden Door. While entirely too extravagant for this year, we agreed that a week away from it all in a beautiful environment with well-prepared food, spa amenities and healthy exercise options was a worthy gift. I mentioned an alternative retreat I’d discovered a 5-hour drive, rather than flight, from here at 1/4 the price. We agreed on my visiting the “Brass Door” during the summer of 2009!
What I especially appreciated during our conversation was their reminder to me that I set an example for all those I meet. How can I coach women towards their greatest achievements and self-care if I’m not continuously modeling that behavior? Hmmmm, could this be a business expense given that last statement?!
If you’ve got savings tucked away and a trusted adviser with whom to check your numbers, go ahead and reward yourself too.
I can think of two clients off the top of my head who are on the verge of major success. In both cases the work is impeccable–one an author, the other an interior designer. Each has done everything humanly possible to get her message out to the public. They have created or taken advantage of opportunities for local and national press. They have forthrightly promoted within their own spheres. National and local reviewers and critics have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
So, where’s the money? Where are the big offers and deals? Great question.
The answer is: They’re coming.
The advice is: Allow it to manifest. Stop watching the pot. Move on to the next right thing and let success happen.
In my own mastermind group, one of our members was going through a similarly frustrating period. She was appealing to a new market segment, hiring administrative staff, writing newsletter content all while serving her clientele daily. Why weren’t her bookings up?
Again, my advice was the same. When you’re great at what you do, your products and services are impeccable and you are doing everything right in terms of reaching out and spreading the word, then it’s time to let go. A few months later that same mastermind group member was recording her best days and weeks ever and bringing in completely different issues for advice.
At some point it’s essential to sit back and rest. God did.
I remember the first time I received that advice. I felt relieved. In my heart I knew I had done everything I needed to do. I just needed someone to remind me of that fact. If that makes you nervous, get out your God box and put in the desired outcome–book sales, a million dollar client, a paying audience. And then let go. You’ve done your part.
I received an email from one of my many creative clients who was suffering. She acknowledged that it was self-inflicted. She had just been online and found an artist’s site she found enviable, which got her thoroughly depressed. The Internet makes it easier than ever to compare ourselves and our businesses to others.
I well remember that pain having once swum in those same self-flagellation waters. It happened to me at craft shows back in the 90′s when another artist’s booth would have me drooling with envy. It happened during my coaching certification process as I listened to CD recordings of master coaches helping clients. I want that! NOW!
Anyone else out there identifying? There’s some good information hidden in the pain of that envy. You become crystal clear about what it is you’d like to achieve in your business/life–an elegant website, numerous comments on a blog, hundreds or thousands of followers on twitter. It’s an opportunity to take a step back and figure out exactly what is so enviable. And what it might take to achieve that. These can become your goals if they’re really important. The suffering is definitely optional.
I’ve come to appreciate the bumper sticker wisdom recited by my friends:
- Compare and despair.
- Don’t compare your insides with anyone else’s outsides.
- You’re exactly where you need to be.
- Keep the focus on yourself.
Take as many of these as you’d like and comment in the morning.
While I was writing today’s blog about collaboration, I went to my image resource for a photo of an iconic partnership–a couple photographed from behind with the sun beaming rays all around them, or something similarly inspiring. What I repeatedly found was this–white men in business suits shaking hands. Not my world!
Where are the women professionals? Few and far between! People of color? Forget it! Women over 4o? Not on this stock photo site. It’s not a battle I choose to take on, but a quiet reminder that there are still unspoken hurdles to leap out there in the world of business and life.
My piece on collaboration will wait until next week when I’ve had time to locate a more suitable representation for my message.
Monday was impossibly rainy and everything that happened up until about 4:30pm that afternoon made me want to crawl into bed and pull up the covers.
- The big check I’ve been waiting for didn’t arrive.
- A speaking engagement I thought I had booked fell through.
- A weekend outing with friends from my Leadership group was postponed indefinitely.
- My husband and I received horrible news about the death of a young man we both knew–five months after the fact.
These were disappointments, annoyances and shocks. A lot for one day. I called a good friend, whined a bit and got a fresh perspective.
And then it got better. I needed it to because I had a speaking engagement Monday night, and I didn’t want to have that negative energy interfere with my message.
We are always at choice. I know that I want to get paid and have a good relationship with the delinquent payers. I want to speak for the organization that bypassed my talent this go-round. I look forward to getting together with my colleagues and not being resentful about the delay. I want to express my sympathy without any attitude about not being informed earlier.
This requires awareness, consciousness and desire on my part. I could so easily slip into self-pity and self-righteousness (two of my favorites) and make everyone wrong. Ultimately, I know that doesn’t serve me or those I serve. Taking that pause, dialing up a friend and reflecting on the bigger picture–Who do I want to be? What do I want in my life?–helps me make a better decision in the moment.
My talk that night went well.