You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2009.
On October 1 I will have the privilege of addressing all the women attending the Convention for Re-Invention–a day long program put on by Idea Group Productions at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook, CT.
I’ll be sharing many of the lessons I’ve learned as a lifestyle entrepreneur–stories and examples of hard-won wisdom and knowledge–through the lens of 30+ years experience in my own business. Although there are always lessons to be learned as long as we live, mastering some of the essential ones helps me not to repeat them. I find that the longer I live and the more successful I become, I still rely on a set of tools and strategies that have seen me through.
Where 20-25 years ago I may have needed to figure out a strategy for addressing a teller at my bank, today I’m using that guidance to ask for what I need from Random House who bought out my last two publishers. Same issue, bigger stakes.
If you’d like to hear these lessons and hang out with a lot of great women for a day, you’ve got about 36 hours to still qualify for the early bird deadline and save $20. Here’s a link to the the site:
Click the tab on the left for the registration information. I hope to see you there in a month and a day.
August was all about doing things differently and taking time off from my business. In July I let my clients know that our next appointments would be in September, then made plans that took me in other directions. My three big away-from-my-routine outings were:
- Family vacation to the Jersey Shore
- Attendance at a spiritual conference in Irving (Dallas), Texas
- Assistant-Coaching at a training session for three days in NYC (pictured above, thanks to co-assistant Jean Hanham’s photography and follow-up)
Each of these accomplished, in its own way, the same outcomes which are the hallmarks of what a vacation represents for this woman business owner:
- time away from my everyday activities
- being with people I enjoy
- meeting new people and trying new things
- not being home
For some folks this entails travel to exotic places. For me, changing my routine and becoming completely immersed in something else feels right. Today, back at my desk, I feel invigorated and refreshed to do what I do the other 11 months of the year.
I can’t wait to talk to my clients again starting next week. I’m really looking forward to the three networking events I’ll be attending soon starting next Monday. I know my colleagues have been off doing wonderful things as well. I’m excited to hear about it all.
Greetings from Dallas! I arrived this morning to attend a working conference. In this month of not doing my regular entrepreneurial work, I’ve cleared the time to give service to a spiritual fellowship this week and assist at a coaching workshop next.
While this may not resemble vacation or play to some readers, fully engaging in activities that aren’t my everyday fare is actually a vacation for my brain. It’s a bit like meditating which I do twice a day as a rule. I remove myself from the dailiness of my business to rest my mind and change my focus. The effect is that I come back to my day refreshed and renewed, often with a new perspective. I know that will be one of many outcomes over the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, I’m staying out of the 100 degree heat and taking a nap before the program begins for real this evening.
Even with taking the month of August off, changes are happening in my business. I’m beginning an alliance with a company I highly admire. We have our first event at the very end of the month which has already sold out. I love everything this company stands for, a reflection of the woman entrepreneur who founded it and whose vision is represented: Eileen Fisher.
This is in stark contrast to other work relationships in my mix. Most of my clients show up every week with their field work rigorously completed and their agenda firmly in hand. Others, not so much. When I notice myself complaining or feeling victimized by these relationships, I need to ask what my role is in it. I never like the answer. I need to take responsibility.
The coach I worked with during my certification training made me fire a client which terrified me. This entrepreneur was a crazy-maker. While I consistently keep my coaching hours to Tuesdays and Wednesdays for 95% of my clients, I was finding myself on the phone with him on Sunday mornings, New Year’s Day, etc. What was wrong with this picture?
The challenge? The Universe has handed me (with a lot of persistence on my part) exactly what I’ve been looking for. My job is to let go of the jail cell bars that keep me attached to working with clients who aren’t showing up to do the work on their end. The bars are holding me in, but when I look to my left, to my right and behind me, there are no bars. I need to trust that and let go.
I wish there could be a written message that says, “Pssst, Jane, we’re giving you what you’ve been praying for. This opportunity is the sign you’ve been waiting for. You can let go now.”
Am I the only one who needs a burning bush?
Last January I hosted my first Remarkable Women’s Network event at Kate Eisemann’s Studio in Wilton, CT. Eighty women came out on a wintry night to meet each other and share something about themselves with the group.
It was such a successful night that I knew I wanted to continue offering the opportunity for remarkable women to get together in a meaningful way. I invited the first 30 women who signed up for a repeat event in April. This time the focus was not only on meeting each other, but also on having important conversations in small groups. Again, it was a terrific hit. Two more great evenings followed, one in Wilton, one in Fairfield, CT. Over 200 women have now participated in this experience.
On August 31st I’ll be hosting my first event in Westchester. I’m THRILLED to be holding the networking evening at the Eileen Fisher store located at The Westchester–a magnificent shopping plaza anchored by Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Eileen Fisher has been a role model for me since I heard her speak at an AWED (American Women’s Economic Development) Conference back in the 80′s. She has always maintained a clear vision for her company and holds the same values as I do.
“Life-fulfilling work is never about the money–when you feel your true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it,” explains Eileen. (From the EileenFisher.com website)
There are only a handful of spaces left for the event on Monday night, August 31 from 5:30 – 7:30pm. If you’re a remarkable woman and you’d like to participate in this event, you can still sign up by clicking on this link and registering today.
I totally identified with the new Meryl Streep (my hero!) and Amy Adams movie that opened on Friday. We (my husband Buddy) and I were at the first matinee at the BowTie Cinema in Norwalk. I’d gone to a Times Talks event a few weeks ago to see a live interview with Nora Ephron–the writer and director, Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep. I couldn’t wait for the picture to come out!
I thoroughly enjoyed the film which parallels the lives of the blogger from Queens–Julie Powell, who authored Julie and Julia upon which this movie is based. Ms. Powell took on the self-imposed project of cooking her way through the recipes of the great Julia Child in one year–524 recipes in 365 days. While cooking is the central theme, being who I am, I viewed it as a movie about entrepreneurship and passion, of course.
There were so many truths about the journeys of these women business owners, although no one would have referred to Julia Child that way back then. The movie follows the path of the young woman as she cooks her way, and then blogs about it, through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It interweaves that plot line with Child’s road to publication along with a large dose of marital stories in the mix. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so will only bullet my big takeaways:
- Passion and persistence are as important as talent.
- Irma Rombauer, author of the Joy of Cooking (which celebrated its 75th anniversary three years ago), paid to have her book published.
- Not everyone will acknowledge you the way you wish they would.
- Disappointment is an inevitable part of the journey towards success.
- Victory is sweet.
I got an SOS call from a colleague asking for feedback on a client situation. She’s a successful photographer who had just completed a head shot assignment (150 miles from her hometown). She had emailed the final images to the art director for the brochure he was designing.
He immediately replied, “Where are the conversation shots?” meaning photos showing the businessperson not only in a formal head shot, but also in informal gesturing situations.
My friend had delivered just the formal poses. There had been no signed contract requesting more than these, so she thought she was in the clear.
But his insistence that more was called for got her nervous. Rectifying the situation would have required a trip back to the company, clearing the time with the featured executive and setting aside her own additional time–not a happy prospect for anyone.
She took several actions to resolve the situation:
- She called the art director for greater clarity.
- She called the client for whose brochure these shots were being taken.
- She reviewed her email history to see where that piece of the assignment was first mentioned (only once and never in a signed document).
- She called me, her accountability partner, to get neutral feedback.
In other words, she did her due diligence. She didn’t hide and she didn’t make excuses–behaviors I’ve seen over and over–to cover her fear.
The outcome? She had taken some informal photos during her shoot. She had deleted them because she hadn’t thought there was any need. She retrieved and forwarded them to the art director who was able to use them. She didn’t have to travel back, disturb the executive or spend another day shooting.
When she wrote to tell me the outcome of this dilemma, I immediately wrote back to her with these words:
Thank you for letting me know, and what a great outcome. When we hide in fear and denial our demons dance. You took action, did the next right thing and now YOU get to dance, not your gremlins.
When my sisters and I were young we would look at magazines like Seventeen or at mail order catalog pages and vote for our favorite model, outfit or hair-do. We’d turn the pages, announce the category, then count to three and point. “Prettiest! One, two, three!” Then we’d compare choices, elaborate on our opinions–”I would have voted for her but that outfit! Ugh!” or “You always pick Cheryl Tiegs!” We learned discernment at an early age.
We’re at the Jersey Shore this week celebrating my sister-in-law’s 50th birthday. Carolyn’s family has come to Ocean City, NJ forever, which is where the party took place last night. Yesterday morning my daughter Laura and I were strolling the boardwalk and came across a large display of head shots for the upcoming Miss Ocean City competition. Since there were three rows of photographs to choose from, Laura and I recreated this voting ritual of my youth.
We stared at the top row of smiling faces, didn’t discuss the pros and cons, but got right down to it. “Choose your favorite. One, two, three, point!” Surprisingly, our forefingers both shot in the same direction. Ha! Coincidence! We moved our gazes to the next row. Same rules. Same result. Onto the third row of attractive teens, and we got the exact same outcome. Laura and I were laughing out loud. What was it that got our vote?
In each case our eyes were attracted not to the prettiest girl but to the one whose eyes made a real connection to us. It wasn’t even close. There was something authentic about the way each of our three choices looked back at us that was instinctively appealing, beyond physical beauty. Laura asked me if I was going to blog about it. I immediately saw the value in relating this experience because it says everything about authenticity I feel.
When you are being your authentic self, whether posing for a head shot, being transparent about how a business transaction is impacting you or letting out a real belly-laugh when tickled, there is nothing more compelling than the real thing. You carry that ability wherever you go. And, as witness to Laura’s and my boardwalk game, we’re susceptible to the powers of authenticity at work and play.