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Nanci Lewis, owner of Sweet Rexie’s in South Norwalk, graciously opened her candy emporium Tuesday night to my Remarkable Women’s Network. After the round of self-introductions and success updates, we broke into small groups for speed-networking solutions.
The energy in the shop expanded exponentially as each woman shared ‘what’s keeping her awake at night’ and got feedback from the other brilliant minds in her circle.
The biggest take-aways reported were:
- A photographer who is changing locations will offer a special ‘moving’ rate for headshots before she leaves her current space.
- An event planner recently hired a young salesman who wants to take on more responsibility. Her group suggested she request that he make a presentation to her about the company.
- More than one woman recognized the need to commit to a date in order to move forward with her vision–i.e. schedule a date on the calendar and send the invitation before having every detail figured out.
I’m very excited that my next event will take place in New York City at the Eileen Fisher store on Fifth Avenue. That was the success I shared.
Every woman I know recognizes the impact of receiving a turquoise box with a white satin ribbon around it tied in a bow. The message is that someone has gone to the very best jewelry store in the world and selected a gift for you. It almost doesn’t matter what’s in it, because the presentation supersedes the contents. At least, that’s what Tiffany has worked since 1837 to create.
So when my handyman gave me the bill for repairing my kitchen faucet yesterday, I did a double-take at the cost of the replacement cylinder- $85. But then I had to laugh when I saw that it had come packaged in the Klaff’s equivalent of the Tiffany packaging (shown here in the photo next to my printer so you can see how tiny it is). Somehow it softened the blow.
I’m curious what my entrepreneurial colleagues are doing to soften the blow? What’s your Tiffany bag these days, or always?
I was looking forward to meeting Susan this morning for an hour-long walk/talk at the old Norwalk High School track. We’ve previously met and walked on downtown streets, but knowing how deeply intense and focused our conversations are, I suggested that we just walk in an endless loop and move our legs along with our mouths without concern for cars and curbs.
I was not disappointed. We covered at least 10 categories in depth during our time together, never breaking stride. Business issues, household stuff and relationships were the first order of business, but where we covered the most territory was technology. We both attend the classes at the Apple Store (their $99 for unlimited 1:1 instruction) is unbeatable.
“Are you using two fingers to scroll?”
“Have you discovered control T?”
“What about the anagram slide transition in Keynote?”
“What are you doing about converting from ACT?”
I gave my “21 Results Driven Strategies” (aka Things I’d Wished I’d Known When I Started My Business) talk for the South Shore Women’s Business Network yesterday. In it I recommend that business owners embrace technology and stretch themselves quarterly or more often to keep up with the trends–adding a blog, getting on facebook or LinkedIn for example.
After our inspirational walk this morning, I am committing to moving all of my contacts over to my MacBook. I’ve got 3000 in my database now along with complete histories and groupings. Give me till March to fully transition. Then, I’ll get one of those cool iPhones and be PC-free.
Anyone out there want to commit?
P.S. My greatest technological achievement, with a big nod to the help received from the guys at the Stamford Apple Store, is the website I created for my upcoming program with Brad Isaacs. Please take a look. I’d also love it if you’d come…and bring a friend.
I heard a familiar refrain this week. Something along the lines of, “Since I never heard back from “x” prospect, I decided to enroll in a course I’d been thinking of taking. I really got a lot out of it, and am moving forward in this new direction.”
Substitute any opportunity that pops into your life or notice when a door you wanted to have opened doesn’t. What are the alternatives?
As a Baby Boomer high school senior in the largest demographic to enter college, I was wait-listed at my first choice Mount Holyoke College and accepted at my safety school, George Washington University. Mount Holyoke had instituted a February Freshman program allowing wait-listed students the opportunity to enter college in the winter when early-graduating seniors would vacate rooms. I accepted that offer and attended GWU for one semester.
Since I wasn’t permitted to enroll in GW’s freshman English course, (MHC wanted to be sure I took theirs) I had to substitute something from another discipline. I chose a life drawing course. Mount Holyoke’s General Education requirements included studies in the arts, so I knew the credits would transfer.
I hadn’t been “allowed” to take art since 8th grade when it had been part of the curriculum. It wasn’t on the academic track at my high school, so I never took classes there. When I had to substitute a course at GW, I enrolled in a 9-hour life drawing course–three 3-hour sessions per week.
I never looked back. When I arrived at MHC I continued taking art and theatre courses which became my split major resulting in my first teaching job when I answered an ad for a stagecraft teacher in the art department at Westhill High School in Stamford, CT. Thirty years in my own art business began shortly after my two-year stint at Westhill.
Had I gotten into Mount Holyoke along with the rest of my class, would I have fallen in love with art the way I did during that intensive drawing class in DC? What I thought was the worst luck, not immediately getting into the college of my choice, turned into finding my life’s work.
Life is throwing a lot of curves these days. We are constantly at choice as to what to do with opportunities or the seeming lack of opportunities. I’m firmly convinced that following our passions and listening to our inner wisdom is the path to happiness. It may be a bumpy ride, but worth it.
Yesterday my neighbor stopped by with some home-grown cherry tomatoes and a warning. “I noticed that the leaves on that tree in your front yard were turning color before the season. Then, I saw that a huge limb was broken and is hovering over the power lines.”
Not news I particularly wanted to hear let alone deal with.
“You could call an arborist, or maybe CL&P (Connecticut Light and Power).”
I didn’t do anything.
Today, when I arrived home from a luncheon in Tarrytown, I saw said neighbor chatting with my husband who had just arrived home from his errands. I knew what was coming next.
“Jane, I’ve got to get to my classes in Greenwich. Can you deal with this?” I couldn’t hide anymore because now I wasn’t the only one in the household who knew something had to be done.
I braced myself for the call to CL&P. Amazingly, I got a live person on the first try. I explained the situation, he took notes and asked important questions (Was the line between poles or between a pole and our house?) and said someone would arrive to take care of it. Elation does not begin to describe how happy I was.
Thinking about what had paralyzed me–I didn’t actually do anything about this until I had to–I realized that it’s the same list of things that my clients and I go through on a daily basis.
I was afraid that:
- No human would answer the phone.
- No one would understand my request.
- I would be denied.
- There would not be a solution.
- It would cost a fortune.
I can’t say that I will act more promptly in the future, but knowing what inhibits my actions makes taking them just a bit easier.
That was the message that stayed with me after hearing Pamela Slim speak yesterday at the EWN meeting–the season opener attended by nearly 100 women (a few guys, too) business owners. She is the author of Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur. Her message on branding came down to a succinct mantra: Amplify who you really are. And let people know who that is.
Hearing how she went from 3 blog readers to over 20,000 in a period of four years was riveting. One night, she said, she wrote a diatribe to America’s CEOs airing her thoughts about everything that’s wrong with corporate America, then forwarded it to Guy Kawasaki. He asked her to edit her rant to a bulleted list of 10 items, which she did. Guy posted her article on his site and overnight, her readership zoomed to 20,000. Opportunities came pouring in.
So here’s my opinion: Anyone who wants to should work for him/herself. And my top ten reasons to be an entrepreneur:
- It’s one of the greatest freedoms you have in this country
- You have the opportunity to create your own future.
- You get to make as much or as little money as you want/can.
- You have the prospect of bringing the gifts you’ve received to market in whatever form they take.
- You are rewarded for your ingenuity, hard work, conscientiousness, creativity, uniqueness.
- You can change course swiftly and respond to the market conditions.
- You determine with and for whom you want to do business.
- You can become as big as you wish or stay as small as you like.
- You get to choose which 8-18 hours a day you work!
- Your relationship with your boss can be the most gratifying experience in your life.
Guy, are you listening?
A good friend recently lent me an audio file of It’s Not About the Money by Bob Proctor*. Driving to and from my speaking engagement in Natick, MA last week afforded me quality and quantity listening time. I heard the entire book on that expedition–about 5-6 hours worth of unapologetic discourse on business and personal success. I am altered by the process of having listened to his empowering words.
What’s top of the list for memorability this time through was the substance behind a thought I’ve heard often before: Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? In this context, he was referring to keeping your vision front and center and letting go of the nit-picky details that often bog us down–me in particular.
Recently, for instance, I had written down a time to dial into a conference call for a program I’m beginning. I had checked the details several times and did so once again before dialing in for the actual session. Not only was there no one on the line, but there was also an annoying recording that said, “There is no call scheduled for this time. Please call back at another time.” BUT I HAD PROOF!
I called someone else on the roster for verification. She, too, had had the same experience. I was getting pretty puffed up at this point in my righteousness. I called the instructor who said the call was scheduled for 30 minutes later. BUT I HAD PROOF!
So, what did I really want from this? Certainly not to make anyone wrong. Definitely not to get off on the wrong foot with this group I’ve been so looking forward to working with. It was another lesson in my getting over the need to be right and moving towards what I do want. In this case, to be a part of a community I admire and to become more effective in creating exactly how that community operates.
Since hearing Bob Proctor’s message, I’ve been aware of how often I see righteousness separating me and my clients from what we really want to achieve in our lives. I’m great at spotting it since I’ve been an A+ righteousness champion for most of my life. My intention moving forward is to keep my vision front and center and not be distracted by the daily indignities that every business owner faces on the way to her dreams.
Yes, I’d love red carpet treatment 24/7, but if its absence is going to interfere with my getting what I really want, I’ll let go of it for the bigger prize.
*Many of you may recognize his name for his contributions to The Secret.
Liz Ball, an extraordinary women in many ways, is among other things the owner of the Pierce Ball Gallery. We sat down together last spring to talk about the idea of exhibiting the work of the Artsy Girls, of which Liz is a member, in this beautiful space.
Working with Liz is a pleasure. We selected a date, held a meeting of the Artsy Girls to get as many of these creative forces on board, and ta-dah! The show is slated to open the weekend of October 2-4.
As I looked at the gallery of creations on the Pierce Ball website (click link above), I marveled at the talent of this group and that I personally know and cherish each of the artists. I feel like the mother hen clucking over the work of her progeny.
Please come! I plan to be there on opening day, October 2 and hope to greet you then.
There was a legendary story in our household about my great grandfather’s first day owning a barbershop in the Bronx. At the end of a very disappointing Monday he compared notes with a competitor down the street. “I didn’t have one customer all day,” my great grandfather complained. “You think that’s bad?” asked his competitor. “My only customer came in, sat down and broke the chair!”
Whenever I’m having a not-so-good day, I think back on that story. These experiences are the character builders (and material for talks), especially for entrepreneurs.
I was having that kind of a day yesterday. It felt like the first day back at school after summer. I had high expectations for transacting business, but got started with a wham-bang of disappointments: travel plans fell through and a much-loved client decided to opt out of a group (for good solid reasons) I am starting all in the space of 20 minutes.
I could have crawled back into bed and assumed the fetal position or headed to the freezer for some Haagen-Dazs. But choosing escapism is no longer a part of my process. Instead, I re-framed the challenges, grabbed the learning from them and moved on. If I regard these ‘problems’ as information, I can re-calibrate my offerings, restate my needs and desires and improve my overall communications and stature.
By the end of the day I was on top of the world, optimistic and moving forward. The travel plans were re-instated, and I figured out how to move forward with offerings more suited to this economy and mindset.
And, completely unrelated, but very joyful–my husband hit a hole in one.
I had the most amazing opportunity this morning! As Speaker Chair for the upcoming WBDC Breakfast, I got to connect our stellar interviewer, Becky Surran, with our featured guest, Dr. Candida Brush, Division Chair in Entrepreneurship at Babson College, via phone for a pre-event discussion.
In coaching there’s a skill called “articulate what’s going on.” During the conversation with Becky and me, Candy articulated eloquently what goes on for women entrepreneurs in a way that capsulized everything I’d learned in my 30+ years in business.
Without giving away the store, here are some of the statements Candy made that underscored what it takes to be successful in business–particularly as a woman:
- A management team composed of a CEO, someone who manages the money, someone who manages the people, a marketing person and a techie. For many of us, we handle all these roles until we have the resources to hire experts. Simply accounting for the roles that need to be played was valuable to hear.
- For people starting businesses give yourself this marketing challenge: Name six customers who would pay you money for your product or service. You will begin to be able to see your fit in the marketplace with this exercise.
- She also touched on my favorite subject: creating your own definition of success. Everything we do as entrepreneurs requires action and then reflection. Did this get me what I wanted? Do I want to continue doing this? Was it worth the cost? Where am I going?
I know that Candy’s interview with Becky on October 1 will be invaluable to hear. Hope to see you there.