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Wherever I go, there I am.
Taking the Charms of Charleston tour I was all ears to hear about this beautiful southern city. We’re down here for the wedding of our friends’ daughter. While my husband played golf with the bride’s father on Friday, I took the morning to scout the town as a tourist.
My guide, Bubba (really!), spoke non-stop about the uniqueness of his hometown. What I noticed most of all was that so many of the facts he told us about Charleston were preceded by the phrase, “Charleston is unique because…” or “The first ___ happened here in Charleston.” “We’re the only city that…” and “Charleston is most famous for …” Not only did he exude pride about his place of birth, but he also got my undivided attention. The facts were compelling and gave the tour a richness and meaning that made me want to share it with others.
- Do you know what it meant if the door to your South Carolina ‘single’ was left open?
- Do you know the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery?
- Do you know why each house on the East Battery is angled to the road?
This got me thinking about the amazing number of USP’s Charleston has. A USP is a Unique Selling Proposition–a term I learned in my early days as a business owner: what make you/your company different? What compelling fact will have your prospects flocking to you? What will cause your customers to not only buy your products/services but also tell your story to their friends and colleagues?
The main USP’s I used to hear repeated about me were that my eggs were selected by the White House and that I was on the Today Show. They’re different today (please share what you’ve heard makes me different/unique).
What are yours? Use them often when describing what you do. If you can do from a horse-drawn carriage, all the better!
I have to admit to experiencing a tad of schadenfreude (satisfaction over someone else’s misfortune) when I read in this morning’s Times that “Microsoft invested billions of dollars in those services and failed to slow Google’s rise.” Those services refers to their Live Search website formerly MSN Search. Neither came close to challenging Google.
Makes me feel a lot less incapable that some of my efforts have failed too–the coaching groups that didn’t fill or my mastermind madness offering that attracted just one taker. I’m grateful that I didn’t lose millions in the process. Like IBM, though, I see what doesn’t work and change directions.
My recent offering for a networking evening for Remarkable Women has sold out. I keep testing the waters and repeat and expand the successes. Everything I do stems from my deep desire to help women, particularly entrepreneurial women. It feels great when I hit the bullseye, but I’ve had to shoot a lot of arrows at the target to figure out exactly where to aim.
My daughter and I went to J. Crew a few weeks back where an old acquaintance recognized me and said hello. I couldn’t identify her at first–that’s how long it’s been–but as soon as she re-introduced herself I had an immediate internal feeling that was a tad queasy. Here comes that trust-your-gut advice again…
She is one of those super-friendly people who shows incredible interest in you and is ultra-gracious. You know the kind. They make you feel like you walk on water and you just want to be around their worshiping words. This woman asked all about what I was doing. When I told her, she was so impressed she immediately offered to have her husband contact me. “You’d be perfect to speak to his university classes. It’s so hard for him to find great women entrepreneurs to talk to his students! And,” she said, “I need a coach and would love to work with you. Do you have a card?”
As my wise and wonderful daughter and I walked back to the parking lot she turned to me and said, “You’ll never hear from her.” Of course, she was right. That was a month ago. The old queasy feeling I had was based on past experience with this same woman. I remembered that a couple of decades ago this ‘friend’ filled my calendar with lunch dates and other tempting plans, then canceled each one as they came up. She taught me to not trust her word.
It’s taken me a long time in business to sort through the false gods promising a quick buck or instant success. In the midst of writing this entry I had an email exchange with a long-time client who has been on hiatus for a few months. Within an hour we worked out how she would move forward in the fall, what dates she wanted and a payment plan. No empty promises or false hopes. I’ll fill my buckets with the less flashy and more dependable sources I’ve been cultivating, not the ones whose words and actions don’t match.
My workhorse road-use-only laptop Averatec computer lost its ability to get an Internet connection a couple of weeks ago. I dialed the 24/7 800 number for assistance and got a “no longer in service” message and no forwarding number to call. Averatec.com has disappeared from cyberspace, so I am on my own here.
My brother and two of my children, not to mention an ardent group of friends and colleauges have been swearing by their MacBooks forever (over a year). Not only are they gorgeous to look at (the Apple computers, that is) but have battery life I’ve been yearning for since my earliest Dell laptops konked out after 45 minutes playing a movie rental during a flight.
So today, my daughter Laura, my husband Buddy and I will trek to the Apple Store at the Stamford Town Center to pick out a MacBook (not Pro) for me. Our second computer ever, after the dos-based IBM hunker died, was a Mac, and I loved it. Now that they interface with PC’s so elegantly I’m able to make the switch.
If you notice a big improvement in my graphics or increasing use of audio-visual components, you’ll know the genesis. I’m going to sign up for their weekly training program and up my tech-savvyness.
How are you spending your Memorial Day? (Not reading blogs, most likely!)
My first offering of Transformation through Transition ended Monday with successes and hugs. Six women began the process a month ago by sharing where they were in their lives/businesses with almost-strangers. Two women who already knew each other had the seed of an idea to work together. Others were looking for direction, wanting to slow down or speed up and/or gain clarity on what was next.
They established support systems, set goals and took major actions like setting up appointments to look at property overseas and setting dates for workshops.
Accountability works! By the second session the energy level in our conference room could have lifted the entire building. I wanted to share the some of the final thoughts that were expressed in appreciation to the group and the process:
- “It was doing, not stewing.”
- “This process helps me to remember that it’s up to me.”
- “I felt nurtured. Your ideas matter. Moving forward is better. It makes me happy to be on this earth.”
- “I needed to hear it was okay to not be doing; to stop doing and just be.”
I’ve just listed a new set of dates for late spring, early summer transitioners. If there’s something you want to get a leg up on, join one of our sessions and don’t stew. Stir the pot instead.
Denise Passaretti of Passaretti Photos just sent me my four favorite images from the NEWBO Awards ceremony last week. I wanted to share them immediately.
With my two colleagues from NSA – National Speakers Association -New England Chapter – Diane Ripstein and Linda Varone
The Amazing Jill Flynne, founder of NEAFA, and Don Hoffman.
Receiving the Woman of Distinction from NEWBO President, Cheryl Garrity
My acceptance speech (soon to be available on youtube…)
A frequently asked question among my clients is, “I set a goal to:
- Earn $10,000 per month
- Get 5 new clients
- Start a new business
But I only:
- Earned $2500 this month
- Met 30 people, two of whom are prospects
- Enrolled in the WBDC Fast Track program
“Did I fail?”
Even as I write this I can see you shaking your head along with me. No! Success is a journey. What I do with my clients is get them into the pond they want to swim in. Where would you have been without that committed goal? What turned up as a result of moving towards your desired income? How are you feeling, energetically, on this path?
I’ll never forget hearing Mark Victor Hansen at a National Speakers Association talk back in 1997, way before Chicken Soup for the Soul was a household name. He told us that he and Jack Canfield set a goal to sell one million books. But that year they only sold 800,000. Was that a failure? Same concept, bigger numbers.
Anything you do on behalf of your goal is a success. You can see that Hansen was clearly on target for achieving his goal. Sometimes all you need to do is push the end date out a little further. Like the parent having a young child swim towards him/her. “Come on,” she says stepping back a foot. “Just a little further.”
The better question is, are you in the water and moving forward?
I just came back from seeing Every Little Step, a documentary film about the re-making of A Chorus Line on Broadway. You get to see hundreds of the world’s most talented singers and dancers compete for 24 roles. The auditioners see their competition and the decision makers face-to-face. They have less than five minutes to show up, perform and have their fates decided.
The take-aways from the movie are enormous. First of all, Michael Bennett had such a huge vision, enormous patience and a way of sharing his message which enrolled the likes of Joseph Papp. After Bennett enthusiastically shared a before unheard of concept about how to ‘put on a show’, the founder of New York’s Public Theatre offered him and everyone involved in the project $100 a week to ‘workshop’ it until it became something.
Marvin Hamlisch, the composer for A Chorus Line, shares a few choice tidbits on how the show got tweaked and won the audience’s favor with some simple changes. For a while the audiences were leaving disgruntled. Listening to a respected viewer, they adjusted the story line and began receiving standing ovations.
Watching all of these outstandingly capable, beautiful and talented performers appear so vulnerably gave me pause. As an entrepreneur, most of my outreach/auditioning is done via cyberspace, phone or blogging. Tomorrow, when I pick up the phone to ask a satisfied client for a referral I’ll say a prayer of gratitude that there aren’t 12 other coaches there in the same room with me and him making the identical request.
Perspective can be a beautiful thing.
The New England Women Business Owners (NEWBO) honored me this week with its Woman of Distinction Award. I received the call from Gretje Ferguson–a member of the nominating committee– back in the dark, cold days of February. It wasn’t something I’d applied for or even known about. It was a gift from the Universe and lit up the rest of my New England winter. “You’re a voice for entrepreneurial women,” Gretje said when she told me why I’d been chosen.
As soon as I figure out how to download the video from my Lumix digital camera I’ll make a youtube clip and post it. Meanwhile, here’s my acceptance speech:
“I want to share my very first reaction when Gretje called me to describe this award and my selection. After hanging up the phone I took a really deep breath in and thought, ‘Ah, recognition for all I’ve done. What great publicity this will generate! I bet I can raise my fees.’
And then I exhaled…
and thought, ‘What will I wear? What if no one shows up? Who did they ask before me?!’
And that pretty much typifies the life of a woman business owner, right? Those ecstatic highs and dramatics lows–all in the same breath?
At my first meeting of women entrepreneurs, like this, I had on a name tag that read: An Egg by Jane. I was in my late 30′s, had school age kids and a home-based business that was about 10 years old. I didn’t know there was anyone else out there running her own entrepreneurial enterprise. I was completely isolated and thought I’d struck gold when I attended that first luncheon filled with so many other women like me.
You asked me questions like, ‘What IS an Egg by Jane?’ You wanted to see my stuff, hear what I offered. And, oh God, you asked me for my marketing materials! You gave me the opportunity to repeat over and over again what I did so that I could get clarity myself. I listened to you, watched what you did and learned from that.
I got to re-invent myself in the shelter of other women business owners as I went from egg decorator to author to textile designer (that lasted about 10 minutes) to professional speaker and coach, each time trying out my new 30-second commercial and offerings in front of you.
Where else can you go where your primary identity is woman business owner? Not the local PTA, not your sports club or fitness center, not your extended family, and not, unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce or Rotary which are still predominantly male.
What’s so special about NEWBO is that here is where you can let your hair down and find others like you. You can brag about closing a deal–and you get it. You can cry about losing a deal–and you get it. You can laugh about not being LinkedIn to 1000 other people–and you get it. And you can ask for help…and get it.
I was so thrilled the first time I was asked to speak at a NEWBO meeting. I’ve loved being connected to you and receiving your feedback all these years. Your support and appreciation have kept me fueled to continue carrying my message.
In rooms like this I met a woman who taught me the skills of time management and goal-setting. I’ve since kept daily, monthly and annual goals and also a ‘bucket-type’ list of 100 things I’d love to accomplish.
In preparation for this talk I pulled out the list which resides in my December tickler file and read through it. Something I’ve wanted for many years (#76) is to attend the Oscars. Well, actually, I wanted to win one, but knew that wasn’t realistic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to win an Oscar? Get all dressed up? Meet Meryl Streep (#60 on my list) and be recognized by your peers.
I’m going to check that one off when I get home, because this is even better. YOU are my Academy. We get each other. And your recognition means everything to me. For that, I thank you.
Brad Isaacs and I had our first West Coast offer of an Invitation to Get Real workshop scheduled in Santa Barbara May 7–last Thursday. Amidst reports of wild fires, we drove down the coast (from Brad’s home in San Luis Obispo) only to see the city obscured by smoke. It felt weird and selfish worrying about whether or not our workshop would be affected when thousands were being evacuated from their homes. Fortunately, no lives were lost and our workshop was held.
We had a great gathering there at La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Center. Here’s what one participant wrote:
How can I ever thank you for the day that changed my life? The workshop was fabulous and gave me clarity about my life and career. I feel so relaxed and confident now, but ready to go out and achieve my dreams. ~Jan Mollet Evans, Marketing Consultant
After Thursday’s program, Brad and I drove up to the San Francisco area to deliver our second workshop that week in Burlingame. We are both committed to helping people face their ‘gremlins’ head-on and learn to recognize and move forward. It’s sacred work. We feel honored and privileged to be doing this and grateful that our Coaches Training Institute Leadership program brought us together and to a level where we can create and share this.