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At one of my first EWN luncheons ever I sat next to a self-employed career counselor who told me that every six weeks she took a week off from her very intense schedule. Since she was her own boss and was responsible for her calendar, it made sense that she could book her appointments and vacations to suit her needs. “You can do that?” I wondered to myself.
I have never forgotten that detail and have worked towards emulating it ever since she mentioned it close to 15 years ago. As I write this today, I am sitting in the cafe at Kripalu where I’ve just spent the last two nights on a mini-vacaction. For those of you who know Kripalu, two days feels much longer. It’s serene, low-key and unplugged. (I’m in the only wired section just for the duration of writing this entry, I promise. Oh, and checking email…)
Yesterday, after a pre-dawn gentle yoga class, breakfast and a guided hike up Olivia’s Lookout, I participated in a Sharing Circle led by Ken Nelson. I knew I wanted to attend this, not only for the opportunity to take stock of my life at the moment, but primarily because Ken is a gifted teacher. I had taken his 3-day workshop, Creating Powerful Experiential Workshops, in preparation for my retreat offerings which began several years ago. It was Ken who taught me how to structure the days, create interactivity and variety, allow for deeper trust and sharing.
Last year, just around the time of the financial meltdown, Ken and I partnered to offer a Create Your Own Future weekend experience at Kripalu. Needless to say, not many people were investing in a future that was hanging precariously in the balance globally. Now that the population has adjusted to the ‘new normal,’ and with the happy coincidence of running into Ken yesterday, we both acknowledged a desire to put our offering out again. We look forward to booking time at Kripalu for a Friday-Sunday workshop in 2010 for anyone looking to design how they want their futures to look–vacations included.
A new client sent me a link to the documentary film by Pamela T. Boll (pictured above) about women who are combining motherhood and creativity called Who Does She Think She Is.
I intend to see the film asap for two reasons. I am a fan of anything that encourages women to take time for themselves and their art, even when family responsibilities are a priority. And, after watching a you-tube clip of the filmmaker and her three sons talking about the impact of her career on them, I plan to ask my grown children to see it as well.
I started exhibiting my artwork in 1970, several years before my first daughter was born. After her birth, I kept my pinky finger in the creative world participating in one craft show a year in a neighboring town and teaching one or two continuing ed classes on quilt-making. Being a full-time mom was my higher value, but I needed something else that was just mine.
I increased the number of shows and workshops as I got better at managing motherhood, but still spent the bulk of my day with my children. By the time my youngest was born, I had set up art classes in our family room. I was featured in a book called Of Cradles & Careers: A Guide to Reshaping Your Job to Include a Baby in Your Life. The photo shows a student sketching on my left, next to me carrying my infant daughter in a backpack, my toddler son gesturing on my right. Those were very full days!
As my kids and art business grew, they participated along the way. What I loved about the you-tube clip of Pamela and her sons was these young men voicing how special it was growing up in a household where creativity and their mother’s art were organic parts of their experience.
I’d love to hear how other artists and their families reflect on the experience of having a thriving, creative mother in the home. I always knew that my creative expression was essential to my well-being. Seeing the video clip from Who Does She Think She Is illustrated how beneficial it was for her family as well.
A large part of coaching is reading the emotional field. When I sense a shift in the energy of a call, I will make note of it and ask, “What just happened?” Those moments are magical because they’re the ones that so easily get stepped over in regular life. It’s in those in-between spaces that the truth is held.
While most of my coaching is done one-to-one over the phone, in-person sessions offer a different advantage–visually seeing a change of expression or body movement. I told a participant in yesterday’s Mastermind Group that I wished I’d had a camera to record her facial expressions. As much as I could describe what I saw to her, there’s nothing like seeing it yourself to realize the impact.
During one of my Leadership retreats in California–one I was participating in, not leading–an assistant was constantly recording our activities with a video camera. When the discussion came around to a leader’s impact–intended or unintended–we were shown digital footage of ourselves when we weren’t aware of the camera.
It turned out that one of the biggest take-aways for me throughout the year long program was seeing the recording of myself and my default expression. Ugh! I looked angry, skeptical and confused. Henry Kimsey-House, one of the founders of the Coaches Training Institute, was a co-leader of this program. He said that he knows what his facial expression looks like when he’s checking out at the grocery store and when he’s arguing with his wife. He has made a conscious decision to take full responsibility for his impact on the world at all times starting with the awareness of his own facial expression.
Since that experience, I take stock on a regular basis of my expression wherever I am. It’s become part of my daily awareness, and I consciously note to myself, “Change your expression, Jane. Smile, relax, let go.”
After an extraordinary dinner sponsored by the Founder, Publisher and VP of Boardroom, I chatted with Marjory Abrams (the publisher) and invited her to my next Remarkable Women’s Networking event. She attended one last spring and really enjoyed it. “I’ll have to check,” she told me. “I schedule myself out only one night a week away from the kids.”
I was touched and impressed by the simplicity of the boundary Margie has set for herself to maintain balance in her work/home life. It’s a clear target, easily attained, and allows her to make decisions based on her valued priority.
Her comment came on the heels of hearing another definition of balance I’d never heard before. I was whining (I admit. I do this on occasion…) to my friend Doreen about a speaking gig I felt like I was chasing down. I’ve called a bunch, sent emails, followed up with the thread of referrals and NOTHING is happening. I told her I was ready to let it go, even though I’d been pursuing it for several months. It feels like an unbalanced relationship creating this sense of unease in me. I was done.
She shared a quote from a Native American associate of hers. Her friend said that their definition of balance is “Don’t push and don’t hold back.” I’m ready to give it my all, but will cease the pushing until the other party comes forward. Now, that feels more balanced.
I’ve been following Carrie Wittenstein’s progress over the last few years. She was in one of my very first Mastermind Groups a few years ago when her dream of a ‘nice’ community was just a twinkle in her eye. During those early sessions Carrie would bring in logo ideas, stationery items and color schemes in vibrant palettes.
Devoting only one day a week to her passion, Carrie made great headway developing a line of t-shirts, water bottles, caps and sweatshirts bearing her upbeat message of spreading kindness through individual actions. Wouldn’t It Be Nice continued to grow with each school and church program Carrie designed and instituted.
Imagine the thrill I got this morning when I opened Carrie’s email this morning with the above image showing her product line on sale at LaGuardia Airport! My mouth dropped open and my heart rate accelerated to triple time.
I am so thrilled for Carrie’s success and visibility. Her determination and persistence have paid off. I’d seen her at trunk shows at friends’ homes and at public trade shows toting her wares and promoting her message. I know what it takes to get where she’s arrived.Hard, hard work!
Another email message in my inbox today summed up Carrie’s journey perfectly:
“A vision without a task is but a dream. A task without a vision is drudgery. A vision and a task are the hope of the world.”
~ Quote on a church wall in Sussex, England
I salute Carrie and Wouldn’t It B Nice and send her huge wishes for continued success.
Since I believe in walking my talk, I have my own coach and two cherished sessions with her a month. On our last call discernment was the topic that we spent most of our time on. I’m in the enviable position of having many opportunities coming my way, several of which I created. But there are have been some unexpected surprises arriving as well that look attractive. My work is to decide where to put my energy and focus.
Recently I was invited to be a part of a nationwide educational program to offer teleclasses on the subject of Mastermind Groups, a business building program that is near and dear to my heart. I lead Mastermind Groups and participate in them as well. They serve as the most important tool in my own business’ growth and accountability. I’m a believer and want to spread the word. I thought the opportunity to be a part of a larger mission would suit me…at first.
What was required of me, though, was to cross-market with the other providers, which I know and appreciate is a way to build your contact list, database and renown. But I wasn’t crazy about the materials I started to receive from one of the other providers. I don’t have products that are ready and available for sale that would make this kind of marketing more viable. I could feel my heart and my gut saying, “Uh-oh!”
When I discussed it with my coach, she helped me remember how it feels when I’m involved with alliances where my heart sings–like with Brad Isaacs this past weekend delivering our Get Real program. Or with my promising collaboration with Eileen Fisher and my Remarkable Women’s Network. I understand the relationship. I know, admire and respect the individuals. It feels right.
As Michele said, “You’re driving around in a Jaguar with these collaborators, and someone is offering you a free Ford. Do you want that?”
The temptation is there, but I have to stay clear on my chosen destinations, my traveling companions and the quality of the ride. While it was still challenging for me to reject the teleclass offer, having that analogy made it crystal clear and slightly easier. I said “no” and “phew”.
When Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles, teaches us how to write an affirmation, he’s specific. It needs to be in the present tense, positive, brief + several other attributes, and ending with the phrase “or something better.” The implication is that our dreams may be less grand than what the Universe has in mind for us.
I’m co-leading An Invitation to Get Real this weekend with my Leadership partner Brad Isaacs. I had reserved the Memorial Room at the Fairfield Library for the event on Saturday. Due to smaller than anticipated enrollment, we don’t need as large (or expensive) a space. I let go of the reservation, then started to seek a new room for our group.
I already had a beautiful new space for the Sunday group, but it turned out to not be available for Saturday. I allowed myself a moment of panic. “Oh, no! I’ll NEVER find a space. This is a disaster. I’m a failure.” That lasted 30 seconds. Then I moved into action, which is always the secret weapon. I phoned the library to see if any other room existed or if they might negotiate. I left a voicemail. Then, I quickly scanned my brain for people in the area who might point me in another direction.
I called a former client and colleague who lives less than 1/2 mile from that library. She knows the town well. Might she recommend a location for me?
“Have it here, at my house. I’ll be away for the weekend. Come and get the key.”
I have to tell you that this woman is an award-winning interior designer. Her house is nothing short of spectacular. The room we’ll use overlooks an impeccably landscaped backyard. It surpasses all my criteria for a functional space to lead a group–comfortable, serene, generous in size and feeling.
Allowing these miracles into my life didn’t happen overnight. I’ve been practicing meditation, prayer, affirmations, fellowship meetings, etc. which have opened my eyes to seeing all the miracles that occur.
My friend June’s question to the waitress embarrassed me when she asked it many years ago. We were having lunch at an Italian trattoria in Fairfield, CT and deciding whether or not to have their capuccino. “How much did your capuccino maker cost?” June asked. She was once the owner of a high-end catering and event planning business in NYC. She knew food and equipment.
“$5000,” the waitress replied when she returned after being asked that impertinent question.
“I’ll have a regular coffee,” June said. Then, knowingly, she leaned over and told me that that was too cheap a device to get really good cappuccino.
More recently, at the Artsy Girls exhibit opening on October 2, Liz Ball, the owner of the Pierce Ball Gallery, had on hand beautiful reprints of the write-up in the Norwalk Hour about our show. The quality of the reproduction was spectacular. I would be proud to send copies to my clients and prospects. Several of us were grilling Liz about them. We wanted to be able to download the pdf and make our own–just like these.
“Is this laser paper?”
“Are you using special inks?”
“How did you get Maggie’s image in color?”
We had temporarily lost sight of the fact that Liz is also the CEO of a top-notch branding and corporate communications company, TFI Envision in Norwalk. She had digitally inserted a color image over the space where Maggie’s illustration was placed in the paper. She, of course, used the best quality paper. “Perhaps,” she added, “it was the $30,000 printer we used.”
Sometimes having the best tool does make the critical difference. Knowing when to make that investment is equally important.
I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of Young Guns: The Fearless Entrepreneur’s Guide to Chasing Your Dreams and Breaking Out on Your Own by Robert Tuchman last week. Riding in on the train Thursday night from CT to NYC, I had the opportunity to finish the quick read begun earlier in the week.
I was meeting five of my CTI Leadership tribe members for dinner. I found myself quoting passages of the book to a fellow Jaguar who is putting together a vision for a new business overseas. She brought up the subject of a business plan and how daunting that piece can be. Having just read a section about that in Tuchman’s book, I pulled it out of my bag and turned to page 47 showing an image of his one page hand-written plan that includes these (abbreviated) bullets:
- Best idea for a name for your busines
- Description of who your business will help (groups, market)
- Vision of what the company will look like in 5 years (employees, profits, salaries, etc.)
- Main goal to accomplish in the first year
- Three important and immediate goals in the next 30, 60 and 90 days to support the main goal
There, reproduced as an illustration, was one page of notebook paper the author used to flesh out his idea. It can be that simple.
What I most enjoyed about this book was the reminder of how big a part passion plays in the formula of business success. The author refers to this as the ‘homework’ test. If doing research for your business feels like work, something you have to do, forget it.
I’m going to the EWN Luncheon in a couple of hours. Some might look on a networking event as work, an obligation, something to check off the list. I can’t wait to go. I see lots of friends, former, current and prospective clients, and I am seen–an important piece of the networking puzzle. I love it! I’ll also hear a great speaker and wear a new outfit. Does this sound like work? And by the way, networking is my primary marketing tool. It’s how I get most of my business.
Of course there are bumps along the way. Tuchman tells hair-raising stories about being near the brink. But I’ll save that aspect of business ownership for another day.
How lucky am I, that what keeps my business flourishing is fun, rewarding, easy and social! Take it from Robert Tuchman’s easy-to-read new book–if you follow your passion, business success can be yours.
My good friend Cookie sent me an article clipped from the NYTimes. It was from the obituary column–the ones written by family and friends to honor the deceased, not one of the separate articles written by the Times as a tribute to the luminary.
Her note said, “On Saturday evening as Whitney [her husband] and I were on the train to the city, he was reading The Times and came across this. He tore it out and gave it to me to read. ‘What does this remind you of?’ he asked. ‘Artsy Girls!’ And then Whitney said I should send it to you.”
After reading it I had goosebumps and a full heart. The tribute was from The Wednesday Ten and said:
It was over 50 years ago that Bill got the idea of bringing together a group of young men who had come to New York to build their careers. The “rules” were simple: we would meet once a month; …we would tell one another about our work and our lives; we would teach one another about the world as we saw it and the opportunities it presented. From that humble beginning sprang a group who continued to meet together…right up to today. It bred lifelong friendships, much learning of the ways of the world and produced a host of successful people.
Cookie (aka Marisabina Russo- pictured left with two of her illustrations at the exhibit) and I had spent the better part of last Friday afternoon at Liz Ball’s Pierce Ball Gallery on the first day of A Common Thread, the exhibit featuring work from 26 of the 50+ Artsy Girls. I formed this group nine and a half years ago with less of a lofty intention than William Safire’s. I just wanted my creative friends to all meet one another and to bask in the glow of their reflected achievements. But over the years as we have continued to gather and now exhibit, the impact of this talented collection of women is inspiring. To be mentioned in the same breath as William Safire is humbling.
Our show attracted terrific press. There was a beautifully written article in The Hour the day before the exhibit started. Then, while several of us Artsy Girls (pictured above) were at the exhibit, the Norwalk Citizen was delivered with our show as the headline news on the front page! It was like receiving a rave review for a Broadway opening–the ‘cast’ assembled to celebrate the moment of recognition.
I told everyone there that I was having an out of body experience. I was so filled up by the excitement of the moment that my mind was rushing way ahead. “I’m already casting the movie,” I told them. I want Natalie Portman to play the younger version of me. Sigourney Weaver can fill the role of the mature Jane. Any other suggestions?!