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Mercury may be in retrograde, but my client calls this week have been nothing short of stunning. This afternoon Sarah Youngblood of Youngblood Interiors started our conversation by saying that there’s been a shift in her. (Music to my ears!) She didn’t even need to say those words because her energy revealed her joy the moment the call began.
When we began working together in February, Sarah wasn’t sure she’d be able to resurrect her creative business. It had suffered a setback while she tended to demanding personal issues that were now in check.
Since our first call, Sarah has been in total action mode–creating her new vision, attending networking events, identifying groups to join and inspiring people to connect with. Last week she emailed me to reschedule our session because she had 13 appointments to fit into her busy week.
In addition to her home decor business, Sarah is realizing more and more that she has a powerful message to share with audiences about her journey. She’s been through life’s wringer and is joyfully on the other side with stories to tell.
When I asked her to define the shift, she couldn’t put her finger on it. It is elusive to look back and think, what changed? I could see it coming and reminded her of her behaviors. When she initially reached out to me for coaching she had said, “I was mentally sparked to call.” This may sound like a throwaway line to some, but it’s a seed that gets planted on a daily basis which most people ignore or take for granted. The difference between Sarah and those who don’t make the transformation is that she took action.
How many times are you ‘”mentally sparked” and roll over for another 10 minutes of sleep? Also in our conversation today, Sarah told me she “stumbled upon a panel of bloggers”… I didn’t stumble upon them. You didn’t stumble upon them. Sarah’s the one who stumbled upon them. It was her inspiration to take note and figure out how to best use that new idea. She did, and she took the next right action. That’s the formula! Putting yourself in an action mode, allowing inspiration to catch your gaze, and then picking up the phone, going to the event or writing the blog post based on your newfound stimulus.
An article in the New York Times caught my eye over the weekend: Tech Entrepreneurs Share Sentiments in Therapy That Aren’t Fit for Twitter. I read every word.
If there’s anything that I stand for in my business it’s this: giving voice to the sentiments about being in business that aren’t fit for social networking, either online or in person. Where can a business owner go and ‘bare their insecurities’? We ALL have them.
I love that these techies have found a home in a monthly support group–Founder Therapy– in the Silicon Valley. I say, let’s ALL talk about the truth behind the facade. Every entrepreneur needs a safe place to express these feelings and be heard. Having a compassionate group is a godsend and a business-building tool.
The examples in the article were about being naive about the risks of creating a start-up, and having to fire a best friend. These are the everyday facts I hear as a coach, each person whispering them as though they were the first ever to have come up against such challenges. We’re such a secretive society that the burden of making mistakes feels overwhelming, so they’re not shared, but rather borne with despair and heaviness.
Today is the final session of my Winter Mastermind Group that’s been meeting since January. The concerns shared were often not seemingly business-related, but the unburdening of these matters unleashed creativity and success without bounds. For business owners especially, there is a need to express fears, be heard and supported, and know that you’re not alone.
Lesson 80 in the new edition of my book, Soul Proprietor, is “Doing nothing by appointment is essential and energizing.” I wasn’t planning on using this lesson today because productivity is on my mind.
I’ve just come from a one-on-one training at Apple to really nail down the label making process. I went to show the young man an entry I’d made yesterday which turned out not to be there. I know for a fact I entered it. Yet it didn’t show up on the list. I took a deep breath, didn’t blame him for making it disappear, didn’t give up and didn’t cry. But my frustration level was rising.
Now I’m in Starbucks. The library in Stamford doesn’t open until 10am. Since when don’t all libraries open at 9am and provide the free Internet access I was expecting? I wanted to use my time productively as I wait for an 11am appointment. I’m creating a document I owe someone. I’m trying to drag photos onto the page, but the computer is not letting me do that. Every time I go to ‘insert,’ nothing happens. I have reached a dead-end.
I know that Mercury is in retrograde, but, hey! I’m unable to complete the work I’ve set out to do and in the time slot I scheduled in which to accomplish it. I even paid for time to use the Internet. But I recognize that I need to stop.
I am going to do nothing for the next hour; just let the pieces fall where they may, breathe, observe and stay quiet. There’s only so much swimming against the tide I can do. I write this to let you know that I experience everyday frustrations regularly. Here’s an inside look at how I deal with them. It’s not a pretty picture, which is why I recognize the need to stop and change course. This, too, shall pass.
It’s in these in-between times that the Universe manifests. I have no idea what the next outcome will be. I just know it’s essential to take down the sails for the moment and just be.
See ya later!
My committed goal to my action partner yesterday was to complete the design and printing of a mailing label off my MacBook. I just bought a new printer for the job as my HP All-in-One rejects my mailing labels. I unpacked the printer, read through the instructions (the short form, not the manual), did a mail merge with my Pages app on the Mac and Address Book and pushed print.
Nothing happened. Aarghh. This is when I really wish there were a cubicle next to my home office where I could simply ask Mr. or Ms. IT, “What am I doing wrong?” But, no. No wonder isolation is one of the top complaints of home-based business owners. So, I did the next best thing and called the help line. Eventually it worked. I felt inordinately pleased with myself over this accomplishment. So happy in fact, I decided to take on yet one more technology learning–how to work the timer on my digital camera. The motivation was that I wanted to show you with my printed label. Having a compelling motivator made learning this trick quick business.
In my new edition of Soul Proprietor I devote an entire chapter to gaining an edge on technology. When I wrote the first edition, back in 2001, I was using email and not much else. Now, many of my conversations at networking events revolve around technology. I met someone yesterday who is a computer instructor. Before long we were deep into a discussion of the Parallels program for getting PC programs running on Macs. You can learn a lot about a person through the topic of computers.
(To pre-order your copy of the New Edition of Soul Proprietor, click on the link above.)
I rejected the first cover proof of my book Soul Proprietor because the red in the New Edition area was too dark and the type on Lindsey’s name bled into the background.
My wonderful book designer Kim Barron made the necessary adjustments; we sent it back for modification, and the revised proof arrived this morning to my liking. Approved and checked off the long list of to-do’s.
Not sure you can see it on this size image, but in the dark area to my right, it says “Foreword by Lindsey Pollak.” I can’t tell you what a huge thrill this is for me. For those of you with children, you know that asking for things doesn’t always get you the desired answer. So, I was a little nervous making the request of my very successful first-born. She’s super busy, and I didn’t know if she’d appreciate the extra task on her list. She knocked me over with her generous acceptance, and touched me deeply with her eloquent words and heartfelt references. Wait’ll you read what she wrote…
I’m excited to tell you that I’m now taking pre-orders. We got the website and shopping cart set up. These first orders will be shipping out a month from today. Be the first in your entrepreneurial network to have your copy! Here’s the link to place your order. One of the bonuses in pre-ordering is that you can get an autographed copy. You can put in any special requests–names, salutations, quotes you’d like included in the inscription in the comments area on the order form–and I’ll gladly include them.
Kim DeYoung and I drove down to Bronxville last week to attend an event where our mutual friend Mary van der Wiel was speaking on branding. During the ride, Kim excitedly told me about her upcoming tele-seminar series called Think It, Create It, Sell It, which I enrolled in on the spot. It begins today, Monday, April 19th at 1pm EDT. If you’re lucky enough to have seen this, determined it’s for you, and gotten a place on the call, I’ll ‘see’ you there.
Kim feels light years ahead of me on the technology front which enables her to provide so many learning opportunities. For example, she has her website set up so that I already have ‘met’ the other people in the class via the profiles we each created. Through her expert level of technology, Kim has pre-qualified her participants in the same way I like to pre-qualify my clients. There are hurdles to be leapt and knowledge presumed which makes the experience that much richer for everyone–teacher and students–involved. I like it that way.
What I hope to learn from this multi-week course, is how to take my existing content and re-purpose it into tele-seminars like Kim’s, as well as podcasts, videos and other learning tools my community has been seeking from me. It’s not for lack of information, but more “how do I do that?” that has stalled my product progress.
Kim’s downloadble handouts have set the stage for the questions I want answered. I can’t wait for our first session. I’m ready to take notes, make a commitment to this group and be held accountable for my actions. I know that the excitement and creativity of the other entrepreneurs on the line will be a driving force. More to come…
Back when I was a member of the New England Chapter of the National Speakers Association, I heard a talk from a prominent editor at Fast Company Magazine. At the end of his talk, as was the practice in appreciating all of our guest speakers, the group rose to its collective feet and rewarded him with a resounding standing ovation.
His speech had been great, but what he said after the applause died down stuck with me more than anything else. I’ll paraphrase. “It feels really good to get the applause and standing ‘o’, especially because what I’m doing for you is really easy. What I’d love is if you’d all come to our offices next Monday and do the same thing after a grueling editorial meeting. Then I could really use the applause.”
I just finished entering 940 names onto a spreadsheet for a postcard mailing I’ll be doing soon announcing the publication of the new edition of Soul Proprietor. That doesn’t sound so daunting, but I’ve been switching platforms to a Mac and had spent hours transferring data from my ACT program. Turned out, when I went to the Apple Store this morning for them to show me how to export the contacts, there had been an entering error and I was unable to get a clean file. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was excruciating. I came back home, had my MacBook set up next to my desktop to be sure I didn’t miss any of the new entries. Long story short, it took hours and it’s done.
Where’s my standing ovation? I could really use one now. These are the hurdles entrepreneurs face ALL the time with no glory. What I know is that the hard work does show in the strength of character and depth of knowledge successful business owners carry on a cellular (and I don’t mean phones) level. Next time you hear your friend, the entrepreneur, mention having achieved a hard-won goal, put your hands together in support and encouragement.
Who hasn’t heard the adage about turning lemons into lemonade (yawn)? But something really caught my attention today. This morning, friend and colleague Rebecca Velasquez handed me her business card with a huge smile. “They’re made out of recycled cereal boxes.” I flipped it over and voila!
The company that produces these is green, recycling this brightly patterned cardboard and printing with earth-friendly inks. With Rebecca’s yoga and meditation business, it’s a wonderfully holistic fit. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter.
Roz Chast spoke at Bedford Middle School in Westport last night describing her arrival there after going the wrong way on Long Lost Road, as she hilariously renamed Long Lots Road.
My friend Cookie and I attended together as we are both fans and slight acquaintances of Roz’s. Cookie (aka Marisabina Russo) and Roz found each other in the waiting room at the New Yorker magazine offices many years ago. Roz once came to my house for an egg decorating lesson. She has completely mastered the skill (witness her exhibit at the Westport Arts Center currently), and I’m tickled to know she loves pysanky as much as I.
She gave an illustrated talk of her cartoons and held a book signing afterwards. At the end of her slide presentation (sorry for the darkened image), she accepted questions from the audience. Her response to the question, “Is it hard to get rejected?” was something familiar and assuring. Roz described how she would send several cartoons a week to the New Yorker along with her colleagues who were also competing for selection. She estimated that the cartoon editor must have received upwards of 400 cartoon submissions a week and maybe selected 20. She knew she would get rejected. “It’s just what I do,” she said. “Rejection is part of the process.”
I loved how matter-of-fact her answer was. Yes, there’s the rejection. Next question.
Years ago, when I was speaking at a conference in Virginia, I was having technical difficulties getting my laptop to ‘speak’ to the organization’s projector. “Why don’t you just buy your own projector so you don’t have to go through this angst?” the program director asked me. The real answer was “$1500″, but I mumbled something else at the time.I actually had the $1500, but chose not to allocate it on this one item at that time.
Actually, the bigger question is, where do I spend my resources when there are so many hungry mouths–technology upgrades, web upgrades, subcontractors, marketing expenses, etc., etc., etc.–to feed?
I keep a healthy escrow account for my business, but sometimes the demands exceed the supplies. That’s when judgment and prudence are called for. What’s most important at this moment?
I’ve just received a lengthy and detailed plan for my book launch which has me very excited. It was created by a pro who previously worked for someone with deep pockets. I teasingly liken my pockets to the new garment you buy where the stitches are still holding the sides of the pocket in place!
What I’ll do is meet with my team of financial advisers, map out my resources and my desires and needs, and figure out what I can afford and when. Of course, I want it ALL today, but that has a way of not working out for the best. What I can afford today is what I’ll purchase. And as more money flows in, I’ll have my checklist to move forward.
I did buy a projector for my laptop which has been a wonderful addition to my technology collection. I did it at the right time and with consideration. That seems to be my formula for success, even though it’s not a particularly sexy way to operate.