You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2009.
Heading out to Newark Airport yesterday I sat in a packed shuttle making its final stop to pick up passengers. The ticket collector seemingly quite harried as she marched up and down the aisle counting empty seats while barking at us to have our stubs ready to hand over. Let’s just say she was less than patient and cordial in the process.
Then her phone rang. I thought this was odd that she had a cell phone in her pocket. What happened to walky-talkies in transportation industry? In fact, I thought it might be her supervisor on the sidewalk wanting to get the final count of remaining spaces. But her voice softened noticeably and this is what I heard.
“No, not now. Mommy’s very busy.”
That touch of tenderness changed the rush hour ride for me.
My friend Mike, who has defined himself in many ways throughout his entrepreneurial life, is on the road a lot dealing with clients. When someone asked him recently where his office was he replied, “In my pocket.”
Like so many of us, the BlackBerry or however you name what tethers you to your business, he is on call all the time. I haven’t taken that leap…yet. My best number to be reached at is still my home office. I check that one from the road before I check the voicemail on my Treo. I am not available 24/7 to anyone. I don’t work that way–literally or figuratively.
As society is speeding up, especially with social media–I mean, would I have known that Brittany Murphy died within an hour of its occurrence even 3 years ago?–I find myself recoiling. I know that our world is gravitating in this direction. But the contrarian in me still wants to see a human face, to hold a hand-addressed and hand-signed card in my fingers, and to be in community with groups of people, not voices in a chat room.
Forgive me my curmudgeonly ways. My office is located in my home, and when I leave it for non-business related activities, it is with consciousness and a desire to strike a balance. I will return calls and emails in a responsible amount of time and I am worth the wait.
I’ve had the good fortune to be in the capable hands of Pauline Sasaki for over 20 years. She is a healing practitioner. Initially I went to her for shiatsu treatments for my aching back. Her technique has grown and changed over the decades we’ve been working together. I don’t even pretend to understand the modalities she brings into our sessions. What I do know is that I feel terrific.
Pauline and I have established our own special ritual for our December session. (I see her once a month for maintenance.) I have my 5pm healing appointment, then we go out for dinner and catch up eyeball-to-eyeball on the past year. Our date was last night, and I am filled with the magic of being in the presence of Pauline’s wisdom.
We were reflecting on the world situation and what’s happening on an energetic level. Our conversation encompassed everything from politics, to Oprah to technology. Pauline has a galactic view, a planetary outlook on what our species is evolving to. She said at this point we are at choice–”Either jump into the spaceship or live in the museum.”
Every Thanksgiving Friday I visit my old neighborhood where family friends still live. Mrs. Munder, now nearly 90, is a role model for how I’d like to age. She just renovated her downstairs, but what stayed with me most during our last conversation was when she said, “I want to stay relevant.”
It could be very easy to fall off the map during this whirlwind era we’re living in. What are you doing to board the spaceship?
I know this is supposed to be the most joyful season of the year, but wherever I go, I hear supporting evidence that it can also be the most challenging. Like Thanksgiving, the perfect holiday may be elusive to many. Here’s what some of my close friends and colleagues are doing to take advantage of a time when everyone else seems consumed by shopping, partying and doing everything not-business related.
One friend is capitalizing on this abundance of “free” time to learn programs on the Mac she needs to know. She recently mastered Keynote (Apple’s superb version of PowerPoint) among others and has created a client presentation that is knocking the socks off of her prospects.
One client finds this excess of time an opportunity to explore which trade shows to enter in 2010. Another is using the peaceful quiet to research artists’ grants while her neighbors are all at the mall.
When I was writing my first book and finding every which way to describe what was missing from the situation, a wise mentor suggested that I focus on the donut, not on the hole. What was there to appreciate given that I had initially been thrilled to be in the situation in the first place? What could I do to take my focus off what wasn’t being done on the publisher’s end? That shift in perspective altered everything for me.
What about the current season does work for you? What can be accomplished when the phones are quiet? What will you wish you’d done now when January comes and you don’t have a moment to yourself?
What does your donut look like?
I spent the last three days going in and out of New York City for visits with family, attending theatre and shopping. Living only 50 miles from my favorite metropolis makes it an easy commute. Besides having wonderful times during my scheduled activities, I came across some surprisingly creative entrepreneurs en route about whom I wanted to share.
There’s a terrific outlet for designer clothing on West 55th Street between 9th and 10th where I met my daughter-in-law Anne for some retail therapy and belated birthday shopping. When we walked into the dressing room an attractive and hip-looking woman introduced herself and said she was there as a gift to Carlisle (the clothing line at the store) to help shoppers put together their look. An hour later I had the most put together outfit you could imagine thanks to the talents of Susan Brown. Wisely, she had her marketing materials on hand allowing me the opportunity to talk about her on my blog. What I admired most was her finding a way to make herself known to a high-end clientele while demonstrating her skills.
The next day I was on the #4 subway going downtown from Grand Central Terminal to Union Square station. One express stop. I got onto the train, and as soon as the doors closed three young men took control of the car. I had a moment of panic because we were a captive audience, but they had performing on their minds. They moved us passengers so that a designated space was carved out for their routines. Then the boom box started and the dancing began. It was elaborately choreographed to work around the subway car poles and to last just long enough to wow the audience and allow time to pass the hat.
While I didn’t contribute financially, I did ask if they had a website I could point to on my blog. He said something quickly which I didn’t write down, but found this link from the NYTimes which elaborates more.
I knew I couldn’t pack one more thing into my day Wednesday, so I pulled out a notecard to let interior designer Olga Adler know that as much as I’d love to see her holiday table arrangements at Juliska’s flagship store in Stamford, I was going to have to miss it. Her opening was slated for 5pm and I had a Dream Peek client from 4-5pm, then a conference call scheduled at 6:30pm. Anyone living near the I-95 corridor knows that rush hour in these parts is completely unpredictable. A round-trip from Norwalk to Stamford is a crapshoot. Something had to give.
But a mini-miracle happened that afternoon. The client I was coaching at 4pm had an epiphany at 4:30pm. Although we were scheduled to speak until 5, I recognized that an arc had been reached and it made sense to stop there and pick it up another time. She was so excited to begin doing research and agreed that we would touch base in two weeks and continue the process.
I’d already written the note to Olga, but looked at the clock, tossed the note in the wastebasket and pulled on my high-heeled boots. I arrived at Juliska just after 5, saw Olga’s sophisticated and inspiring creations, hopped back in the car and somehow miraculously missed traffic. I was back home by 5:30pm.
Take a look at her exquisite creations–
The Artsy Girls met last night at the home of Cynthia Steckel, aka Cynthia Victor, author extraordinaire. In addition to the joy of being in each others’ company and hearing what great feats these creative women are up to (book contracts, new showrooms opening abroad, major acknowledgments from a toy company, etc.), we had a secret mission to honor Liz Ball.
Liz, the owner of Pierce Ball Gallery, has been hosting the first annual Artsy Girls Show–A Common Thread since early October. The show features a wide range of media from painting, photography to sculpture and quilts. There’ll be a special opening this Sunday, December 13 from 1 – 5pm. Liz announced last night that several mothers have called asking if it was appropriate to bring their daughters who were aspiring artists. The answer was a resounding, “YES!”
We Artsy Girls wanted to do something to thank Liz for her generosity of spirit, not to mention the time and talent that went into assembling, curating and hanging this exhibit. Liz’s company, TFI Envision, was serving as a drop center for the St. Luke’s LifeWorks 20th Annual Holiday Gift Collection. Unbeknownst to Liz, we decided to each bring a toy for a child, fill up a couple of vans and deliver the gifts to the cause.
After telling Liz our plan, we walked her outside to see what had been collected. There wasn’t a gift certificate in the world that would have meant as much as seeing all the presents being donated in Liz’s honor. Thank you, Liz, from all the Artsy Girls and all the boys and girls blessed by your caring spirit.
I went out venturing Friday and crossed several bridges on a drive to Brooklyn. I felt like Alice in Wonderland! It’s such a great big, energetic and inviting city. I’d been there before, but mostly by subway, which is actually a better alternative given the traffic. But, after I’d found parking (not easy) I loved walking its wide streets.
My motivation was to check out a referral that Amanda Wiss of Urban Clarity had recommended for one of my Remarkable Women’s Network events–Linger Cafe. I’d emailed the owner, Jessica Pichardo, to figure out when to visit. She was enthusiastic, gracious and welcoming.
I arrived around noon, found Jessica seated in the window area of her cafe and accepted a cup of chamomile tea with gratitude. Jessica told me all about her new venture–less than 5 months now–and her vision for Linger. It’s an inviting space as much for moms with strollers sitting over coffee, businesspeople grabbing a bite and discussing a deal, or groups listening to music and enjoying community with friends and neighbors. I loved its feel. Jessica’s vitality and spirit exude from every inch of the space.
After telling Jessica about my mission–to give successful entrepreneurial women a place to meet each other–which dovetails perfectly with her vision of creating a warm and friendly environment for people to gather, we set a date: Monday, February 22 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm.
If you’re a remarkable woman who wants to meet other remarkable women in a meaningful way in a space that’s conducive to that purpose, sign up today.
What I love about events like the EWN Holiday Expo this past Monday night is that I can set up my display then stand still while the crowds move around me. It ran from 6 – 9 pm, and I had nothing to do but (wo)man my booth.
I enjoy meeting business owners who are new to EWN. I also like having the opportunity for a longer discussion with a colleague I’ve known, but had only brief exchanges at previous events. One particularly juicy take-away from that event was a conversation with Jeanne Gnuse of HTG Investment Advisors Inc. We all know what a tough year+ it’s been for that industry. Jeanne has a great track record, but no company went unscathed by this country’s financial debacle.
What delighted me, though, was hearing about a partnership Jeanne forged this year with another EWN member, Barbara Heffernan, a licensed Social Worker. Jeanne invited Barbara into her elegant office space in New Canaan to conduct a series of lunch and learn programs. This was an opportunity for HTG employees to learn how to meditate, how to listen and how to practice more self-care in order to ride out these challenging times.
Because Barbara was so successful in helping Jeanne’s staff in a profound and meaningful way, the company offered sessions with Barbara to her clients as well. It helped the clients to better articulate their feelings about the historic experience they’re involved in currently.
What a brilliant use of our network! You never know who you’re going to be seated next to or how such disparate industries could find a meeting ground so mutually beneficial. How’s that for creativity?