You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.
Years ago I had an intern come and work for me from my alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, during the January term when the campus shut down. Rachel Atkinson was an art major and came daily to my studio to help me with my creative projects. Because her father owned a thriving graphic design business, she wanted to share some of his resources and expertise with me. One day she brought in a carton of resumes he’d received for a job posting. This was in the early 90′s when everything was hard copy.
I was wowed by the variety of styles, formats and sophistication the applicants demonstrated. You could immediately toss aside 1/2 the pile for lack of originality.
Which leads me to my friend and client Malene Barnett who recently purchased and renovated a building in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn. That’s a fearless enough feat to accomplish. But what really knocked my socks off was the email I received from Malene advertising the rental of her freshly minted apartment offering.
No Craigslist.com for this extraordinary woman. She created an 8-page pdf (cover image above) of her creation placing her property in an elite category and immediately qualifying her prospects. Let me know if you’re interested and I’d be happy to connect you to Malene. By the way, breaking the mold of the repetitive red brick facades is another measure of Malene’s strength of character and determination.
The message here: Take the risk to be bold, break the rules and get noticed. Might just get you a tenant or a job.
One of the most talented women I know, and I know tons of very talented women, sent me an email after attending my Remarkable Women Network event in Darien last week.
She wrote: I dragged myself to the event feeling like there were 29 remarkable women and me, but the positive energy charged me up and gave me the strength to start creating myself again.
My hunch is that not one other woman even remotely suspected that this participant felt that way, and that one or two of the others actually harbored the same sentiment. What’s a woman to do?!
I know this is a syndrome in our society. I’m sad that all of these enormously capable, brilliant and contributing women have such monstrous gremlins on their backs dragging them down, sometimes to the point of paralysis. I’m so glad this woman did whatever it took to pep-talk herself into showing up. That’s the big lesson here. That if your self-talk is just a tad stronger than those negative voices, the rewards are incomparable.
Because I’ve known about SCORE for decades I assume that everyone else knows about them, too. But I realize that this organization is still a relatively well-kept secret. SCORE stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives and offers an amazing resource to small business owners nationwide. Basically, it’s an army of brilliant retired executives, men and women, who offer their services free to entrepreneurs at all levels.
I learned about SCORE in my 20′s when my father, recently retired, joined their ranks and would discuss his clients’ imaginative ideas (anonymously, of course) over dinner. He was thrilled to be giving back some of his business expertise and tickled when his client ran with an idea and succeeded. Over the years I’ve consulted SCORE advisers with excellent results.
Just recently, in an effort to expand my Remarkable Women’s Network I signed on for another round. I’ve been meeting monthly with two gentlemen who feel like the best cheerleaders in the world. Not only are they offering their suggestions for broadening my market, but they’ve also referred some of their successful women clients to attend my events.
Today when I went for my check-in, I was met by a third counselor. My two guys love my model so much they brought in the SCORE program chair and invited me to facilitate a demo session for SCORE clients. Mark your calendars! On Wednesday, February 24 from 7:30-9:30am there will be a co-ed session based on my networking design for SCORE clients only. By the way, anyone reading this has the opportunity to become a SCORE client. That’s an entirely free service. The event I run for them will also be free.
What makes my groups unique is that I offer them only to already successful women business owners who want to meet other successful women business owners. At my Remarkable Women Network events participants exchange information, support and inspire each other and get solutions to current challenges. While the format will be the same–self-intro’s and mini-mastermind groups, the population will be not be. Hence the value-based pricing on my offerings. Women business owners choosing to pay $50 to meet other successful women offers a different demographic group than SCORE’s no-cost event.
A wise friend once told me you can shop gourmet at Stop & Shop, but it takes longer and you have to be more discerning navigating the aisles.
Back-to-back client calls Tuesday morning brought up the same issue–inadequate results from contracted work. After hearing my clients’ frustration with their vendors and brainstorming action steps to move forward, they were still left with two challenges:
- Disappointment with the referred vendor
- Indecision regarding payment
In one case a designer failed to please the client’s aesthetic. In the other, a writer missed the mark on a bio she submitted. Who’s to blame? Do you still pay, and if so, how much? Further, how do you prevent this from happening again in your future?
For those of you who are pulling out your notepads to jot down my pearls of wisdom, sorry. There are no short answers to this because there are always extenuating circumstances. Each situation needs to be handled individually. But you can take precautions and follow certain principles.
Most important: Address the issue with the vendor directly. Tell him/her of your unhappiness and say what you would like to have happen. From this point the conversation can go in many directions. My advice is to be sure to have it.
Second, what you can take control of is how the work arrangement is set up in the beginning. And that means creating a written document. Here’s a mantra for you: Reduce all deals and business agreements to writing. A Letter of Agreement needs to be a standard template you keep in your files for all future business relationships.
You’ve heard the saying, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.” Having the terms written out, how much/by when/kill fee, etc. gives you something to refer back to. Keep it simple, but do it.
With no written agreement you may get stuck with the bill. However, that $50 or $5000 may be money well-spent. I often say to my clients, “It just cost you $500 to learn that course towards your MBA.”
I’d be very interested to hear your stories on this subject, particularly ones that came out happily. Curious minds want to know.
There’s an ages-old perception out there that what we conjure up in our imagination is reality. When I wrote my first book Decorating Eggs and flew to North Carolina to work with the editor and art director, I was sure that authors were met at airports with red carpets and roses by the dozen. In fact, the editor (not a limo, by the way) came to meet my plane about 45 minutes after it had landed. That was a reality.
So, when Sharon McCormick and I were on the phone this morning, I had to laugh at her dose of reality. On a very snowy New England day earlier this month Sharon, a widely publicized interior designer, was at Home Depot selecting some hardware for a job. She had on her L.L. Bean duck boots, a parka, muffler and hat to ward off the bitter weather. As the clerk rung up her order, Sharon handed over her AMEX card. After examining it the woman at the register commented, “You know, there’s also a very famous designer in Connecticut by the name of Sharon McCormick.”
Sharon, touched, replied humbly, “That’s me.”
Without missing a beat the cashier looked at her quizzically and asked, “Really?”
Really! Take a look:
I’m so proud of my dear friend, colleague and organizing professional Betsy Krobot. Her image is featured on the front page of the current Fairfield County Business Journal with an in-depth article about her business.
Besides being headline news and having her business publicized, what tickles me about this particular press piece is that the before-and-after featured behind Betsy is MY laundry room! I’m not afraid to reveal what a mess I was before Betsy arrived to help me.
I’m such an advocate of hiring professional organizers. Some of the areas that have helped me throughout the years, due to the talents of Betsy and others, are:
- Keeping a master notebook
- Moving my art books out of my business area to make room for more business opportunities to flow in
- Creating notebooks to track projects I’m working on
- Providing me with a tickler file
- Using the principles of feng shui to attract business and allow positive energy to circulate in my office and home
If you’ve never hired a professional organizer before, I suggest you try out their services this year. The return on investment is exponential. Your productivity will increase and your frustration level will be minimized. I know from my own experience how valuable Betsy’s and her colleagues’ services are.
There comes a time in every entrepreneur’s life when she has done EVERYTHING possible to make something work and it’s not happening. Take my fiber artist client for example. She is having her graphic look re-designed, and it is in the hands of the branding expert with the deadline pushed off until late January. Her marketing pro has all the contact information needed for the big cyber push coming up at the end of the month. There’s nothing more to attend to there. A table that needs its final coat of paint for her display is being held up by the designated artisan who is suffering from a bad back. Getting the picture? Hasn’t this happened to you?
What to do?
I asked her what else was on her list? She mentioned that she’d really like to complete her home renovation that has a couple of items still not addressed, like the tiles for the kitchen and bathroom floor, plus some new fixtures to purchase.
My coaching fieldwork assignment for her: Go buy a toilet.
My friend Betsy the professional organizer insists, and I agree, that miracles happen when you get busy and productive in another arena of your life. Her mantra is, “Clean a closet, find a boyfriend” a miracle she has experienced and witnessed time after time.
The principle behind this is allowing the Universe to do its share. When you know in your heart that you have crossed every t and dotted every i, then it’s time to let go. Stop stirring the pot. Just allow. This is hard work for doers.
If you were God and saw two people working really hard at the same task and one of them tried to do it all herself and the other said, “I’ve done all I can do. I need some help here,” who would you choose to give a hand to?
One of my coaching clients, Inga Poslitur, expressed the entrepreneur’s experience so well. “It’s like a roller coaster ride: as you are getting to the top of the hill the train slows down and you really feel gravity. But as soon as you are rolling over, the speed picks up like crazy.”
Of course this pertains to life as well, but Inga and other small business owners feels it most acutely because our two lives are so intertwined.
Before the New Year, that feeling of slowing down and the sense of gravity are all too real. “Will business show up in 2010?” “What’s really important in my life/work?” “How did ’09 match up against ‘o8?” The reality of what we do in our lives comes to the fore.
And then Monday, January 4 arrives, the phone starts ringing again and the roller coaster continues.
A successful fine artist and illustrator, Inga came up with three major goals that will serve as her template throughout the year–to earn an MFA (Master of Fine Arts), to have a one-woman show, and to practice extreme self-care. If offers come that are not aligned with her greater goals, this may not be the year to do them. Social media classes, yes–to help her promote her show. Italian 101, maybe not, unless it is on track towards her advanced degree. Having those set goals, her heart’s desires, makes it easier to choose.
You may not be able to control the roller coaster ride, but you can decide which one to hop aboard.
No, the woman in this picture is not Rhonda Smith. This cigar-smoking Cuban native* is just one of the images Rhonda captured on her recent trip to that Caribbean island to re-awaken her creative juices as a photojournalist. Rhonda is one courageous woman.
We first spoke in early fall last year when she was looking for direction. It quickly became apparent to me that this passionate woman came alive when she talked about travel and photography. After much back and forth dialogue, I challenged her to schedule a photojournalism trip for herself to parts unknown.
She accepted the test. Picking the location and doing the photography were the icing on the cake. The bigger hurdles were freeing herself up from her home life for a week–3 year old twin girls–and giving herself permission to dare to do this. In Rhonda’s words, “Just the act of negotiating it was a tremendous leap in my growth as a person. I had not even considered photography as anything but memorializing my experiences and my daughters’ childhood…and now I feel as though someone has switched a light on!”
Here are two more of her brilliant images. I feel privileged to be scooping Ocean Drive magazine who will be publishing many more of them this year.
I get so energized by the women I meet in my everyday entrepreneurial encounters and want to share that inspiration with all those who read my blog. Every so often, I hear something that is off-the-charts fearless and thrilling. I’m going to use Fridays to describe these women, perhaps weekly or monthly, and would love to hear from you about your own fearlessness or that of someone you know.
*BTW, Rhonda has come across this woman’s image several times since she took this shot for which she paid the ‘model’ one Cuban peso. It seems that this bespectacled lady always charges visiting photographers a small sum for becoming their subject. I say yahoo to her entrepreneurial spirit.
This is Rhonda…and her daughters.
Joan has been one of my role models since I met her at the Entrepreneurial Woman’s Network nearly 20 years ago. Then, she was fresh out of having created the Children’s Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and had formed her own company, WJ Fantasy, which published books, games and advent calendars for children. Together we formed a Mastermind Group which grew from three women business owners, morphed to 12, then settled at six of us who met regularly.
Joan sold her company several years ago, took up golf, got really good at it, won awards for getting women involved in the sport and continues to use it as a tool for her business. Whatever Joan decides to do, she dives in and conquers the field.
Want to know how? She sent me an email with a book recommendation this week. Her description of how she came across it typifies her style:
I am just reading a book that I thought might have some relevancy for your workshops. I discovered it before the holidays while going through books at the main business library on 42nd street. I am preparing to interview executive men and women who have been successful doing business on the golf course. Needless to say, I am pioneering such an investigation so I don’t expect to find a book on the topic.
But I sit on the floor of the library and work through the books looking for some one or two that will stimulate and support my thinking. I have always found this is a perfect way to find companionship in the workplace as I imagine that the writer is actually conversing with me. Sometimes it is the title that speaks to me first. Such is the case with this book that I recommend for a quick read when you have the time: The Corporate Mystic by Gay Hendricks and Kate Ludeman, 1996, Bantam.
I subsequently ordered it on amazon for $1 ($3.99 shipping). It’s out of print, but available through used booksellers. I can’t wait to read it.
BTW, Joan is inspiring on many levels, least of which is that she is 72 and still going strong. Gives me a lot of hope!