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You can learn a lot about self-marketing from watching the video Isn’t She Great? a fictionalized version of the author’s life starring Bette Midler and Nathan Lane. Jacqueline Susann was the master. When her first novel Valley of the Dolls was published, she and her husband created their own marketing campaign which included arriving at the distributors’ loading docks with doughnuts and coffee and complimenting the teamsters union. She and her husband made a cross-country tour arriving at bookstores (pre-Barnes and Noble days) in every small town to introduce herself and her novel. She memorized the shop owner’s name and birthday and arrived with bravado to introduce herself to them personally.
It worked. Valley of the Dolls is noted to be the best-selling novel of all time at 30 million copies sold.
Why I bring this up is that an artist friend and I were discussing self-promotion and what it takes. As you can see from this example, Jackie put as much into the publicizing of her book as she did into the writing of it, if not more. This friend mentioned a colleague who seemed to be spending more time on social media and self-promotion than on honing her creative skills. Not jealousy, but observation. It sounded to me like this artist would find a more profitable niche actually helping other artists spread their message.
There’s a fine line between being the creator and letting others know about it. In the movie version of Susann’s life, the literati were not exactly flattering. There was a television clip of an interview with Truman Capote about the success of Valley of the Dolls. His quote was, “That’s not writing. That’s typing.” (Interestingly, on Wikipedia the quote is attributed to Gore Vidal.)
I’m curious if any of you struggle between being the business owner and promoting the business. Where are you in the mix?
A lot of people talk about wanting to move to Hawaii, but for most of them, it’s simply a fantasy. When Kathryn Ryan first expressed that desire, I have to say, I thought she might be just another New Englander seeking to escape the cold and icy winters of our corner of the world. But I grossly underestimated this woman’s seriousness of purpose. On Monday night I had a conversation with Kathryn by phone accommodating the 5 hour time distance between Connecticut and Maui.
I got to know Kathryn a few years ago as an energy healer and client. She was looking to grow her practice when we first started working together. The desire to live near the water in a tropical climate came up early in one of our coaching conversations. It was a strong vision for her throughout our sessions. I was supportive of her desire and very happy to hear her story of success. It strongly follows the principles of creating visions and taking the action steps to make them happen.
In brief, Kathryn had an uncle in Hawaii who offered her temporary quarters while she tried out the Big Island. She knew she wasn’t going to immediately start her own business, so went for interviews as a massage therapist to earn income during her transition. She actually had to fly in a small plane to Maui for one of those job interviews. “If I’m meant to move to Maui, I want to see a whale,” she bargained with the Universe. The interview was only so-so, but she caught eyes with a man on the beach while on that island and exclaimed, “Did you see that whale?” shortly after one surfaced near the shore. Maui it was! That job didn’t pan out, but another did. Kathryn is supporting herself, living a block from the ocean and is in love. She also was happy to report that she’d those 25 pounds she’d been hanging on to before allowing herself her vision.
Kathryn took the risk of leaving her home of over 30 years with two suitcases and her massage table. She followed every lead that came her way and trusted her gut that this desire for a warmer climate and slower pace would bring fulfillment. In March 2011 it will be two years since she made that decision. By her own admission, she’s never been happier.
I’ve been a fan of Martha Beck ever since reading Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic over a decade ago. She’s a life coach, author and columnist for O Magazine, whose wisdom and words are inspiring. Her recent column in O’s September issue was so on point for one of my clients, I had to read her my underlines.
This particular client was being self-critical of her need for personal time and rest. She wasn’t finding her mojo and felt guilty about it. Martha’s piece entitled “Lying Low” addressed this. “Humans are the only creature in nature that resist the pattern of ebb and flow.” We think we have to keep moving, keep generating, keep trying to solve, solve, solve when sometimes the solution is to step aside and rest.
“…The darkness between days, the emptiness between fill-ups, the fallow time between growing seasons–are the necessary complements of upbeats.” To everything, there is a season. Resting and restoring are parts of the cycle we so easily overlook, more so when our minds are telling us to keep striving. Sometimes the solution is to stop and let time pass.
That said, I’m leaving for a mini-vacation to Kripalu, my favorite place to go for R & R. These last days of August feel a lot like the end of December when it seems that no one is around. The phone is quiet, networking events are non-existent (except for mine next week!) and everyone appears to be operating in back-to-school or last-chance-for-the-beach mode. Rather than fight it or try to make it different, I’m taking off to a place where I can rest, get a massage and be in nature.
Come the hectic pace of September I know I’ll look back on this quiet time and be grateful that I didn’t push my way through it but surrendered instead. Thanks for the reminder, Martha.
Check if this feels familiar: A company owed me a check for the books they had sold during a speaking engagement. I had anticipated receiving that money a few days after the event. Now it was closer to a few weeks and still no check. My resentment was rising. I had to take a look at my piece of the transaction.
- Did I have our agreement in writing? No.
- I noticed that I was getting more and more annoyed at the absence of an envelope in my mailbox.
- I then realized I hadn’t even been to my P.O. to check on incoming mail for several days.
- I owned the fact that I had not emailed my contact to be sure the transaction was in process.
- I realized my passivity was an old way of operating and hoping someone else would take care of me.
Once I got to my post office and saw that the awaited check was not there, I sent an email and got an immediate response and a check soon after. There had been a glitch in the system, and now they were on it. Very simple. No one to blame.
I find that I need to identify my old, but familiar relationship with victimhood every once in a while to be sure I’m not feeding myself a dose of adrenaline just for the rush of emotions it brings. That’s a dangerous place to live, and I don’t want to dwell there.
Mark Twain said, “My life has been full of catastrophes, most of which have never happened.” Are you susceptible to this behavior? The best antidote I know is to share the situation with a trusted friend or colleague, shine the light of day on it, and remove it from the dangerous neighborhood of your brain.
Liz Alpert Fay hired me several years ago to make her create. I say that somewhat facetiously, although there’s an element of truth in it. It’s the same reason I pay my coaches and service providers money–to hold me accountable to that which I have previously procrastinated, avoided or languished over.
Sounds kind of crazy, but without the financial commitment and respect for the professional I hired, I had not preciously achieved what it was I set out to do.
Liz is an extraordinary artist with an extraordinary vision. A few years ago she added on a working studio to her New England home. One of our summers working together involved her first committing to specific numbers of studio hours each day. That meant saying no to many requests from the outside world. This is significant. In order to accomplish your visions and goals, saying no is essential. Even if it means turning down a day at the beach, lunch with your mother-in-law or being first in line to see Eat, Pray, Love. People who accomplish big goals have had to say no to hundreds or thousands of temptations along the way.
Back to Liz, who is a master of focus and dedication to her art. Not only did she commit the hours a day to studio time, she also broke out of the mold of the traditional rug hooking medium in which she had achieved such success. Although the images here are small, the tree skirts surrounding the interestingly shaped tree stumps, are all created using fiber arts and textile techniques.
Liz’s work is on exhibit now at the prestigious Peters Valley Craft Center a vision come to fruition through creating the dream, putting in the hours day after day, saying no, showing up and letting the world know what she was up to.
“I am on my way to Charlotte to the WITHIT conference. Women in the Home Furnishings Industry. I feel a bit guilty going so much this month, but that is the way the schedule fell, and I am determined to network more and outside my normal sphere. Driving this time and planning to spend the night with a dear girlfriend on the way home to spend time with her.
“Not many of us can just go when we want to and I am new to this freedom. Pretty amazing. Looking forward to speaking to you next week.”
“Let go of the guilty feeling for a second, pull back and take a look at the life you have created for yourself. I see a woman on the move and making a living, with friends in all places and the agility to manage the freedom and joy of this independence. What’s to feel guilty about? That others haven’t designed their lives to have what you have? That you get to be happy?”
And hers back to me:
“I have printed this out to read and reread as I travel over the next couple of days.”
We as business owners all know that the way to capitalize on our resources is to spend our time doing the tasks we do best and delegating the rest. When I was new and young in my business I did it all: data entry (handwriting names on 3×5 cards), producing the items for sale (decorated eggs, jewelry), marketing (designing the postcard mailings and applying the stamps myself), etc., etc. I always felt like I didn’t have the money to pay someone else. And besides, it would take longer to explain it than to just do it.
Over time I learned that in order to grow, I needed to let go of the work that I could hire out and that had a lower dollar-an-hour amount in cost. If I could design and sell an egg for $100 and it took me an hour to do that, then anything taking up my time–like filing or licking stamps (this was pre-self-stick stamp days) valued at less than $100 per hour–I would be wise to delegate. Eventually I hired an assistant in my studio at $10 per hour and never looked back.
Nowadays, I spend 90% of my time coaching, speaking and writing for which I have the highest return on my investment. I hire people to convert my online e-newsletter to html, take registrations for my events and outfit me so I look professional and stylish.
Think of it this way if you’re having a hard time letting go. At some point our forefathers and foremothers let go of milking their own cows and trusted that the milk they drank would be okay, even if it didn’t come from the labor of their own hands.
Is there a to-do on your list that you’d like to let go of but are afraid of losing control? Can you trust that delegating this labor-intensive task will free you up to be more productive in your business? Call a goal buddy and commit to letting go of the equivalent of cow-milking. Let me know how it goes.
My head is still spinning from the informational overload, excitement, new relationships and possibilities opened as a result of attending this spectacular conference in NYC last week. I want to offer my own session next year called something like, “So you’re totally inspired by BlogHer ’11. Now what?”
Thought I’d share some of my follow-up to-do list to inform and inspire you, and for you to hold me accountable.
- Check out and spend time on these websites and blogs among others:
- Spend time: researching google analytics for my blog posts, inserting a google tool bar, learning more about feedburner, clicky.com, wompra, postrank, filtering keyword reports.
- Add social media addresses to my email sig file. New business cards with social media addresses.
- Introduce people I met at BlogHer to people I know who would benefit from knowing them.
- Write blogs about each of the subjects I noted, like the fine line between friending and stalking; whether or not to truncate blog posts; what it’s like to be more learner than expert, etc.
- Form a social media mastermind group to help me and others up their tech skills in these areas.
- Spend dedicated time on twitter and facebook daily
I will approach these in bite-size pieces and spread them over the next several weeks and months until using social media and feeling more on top of this becomes second nature. Currently it feels like I’m in the parking lot of my elementary school with my father pushing me on my two-wheeler with unsteady training wheels. I look forward to being on the open roads sailing along on a ten-speed, hands free.
Let me put this in perspective for those of you reading this who are under, say, 40. Having my picture taken with Bruce Jenner would be the equivalent of you having your picture taken with Tiger Woods last summer. Bruce Jenner was THE athlete back in the early 70′s. No way would I have been anywhere in the vicinity of this superstar athlete. But, at BlogHer ’10, I was wrangled over to his area of the trade show asking if I’d like to have my picture taken (on my own camera, thank you) with Bruce Jenner. Why not?!
There’s something here about the trajectory of a career. He’s now stumping for Tropicana. What does that tell you? My kids and others more familiar with his career asked if he was the one married to a Kardashian. I’ve vaguely heard of those folks. Made me think about what fame can do for or against you. Sobering…Not sure I’ll ever have to be concerned with that degree of fame and its aftermath.
I had the immense pleasure and privilege of sitting at the table with Missy Germain and her mother Gail at the opening breakfast session at BlogHer 2010. I was with Sarah Youngblood, my client and friend from Georgia, when we randomly sat down and then pinched ourselves with delight that we had met such successful bloggers right at our table.
Missy and a partner created the blog bittenandbound.com which, her by her tagline’s admission offers “the not so pretty side of Hollywood.” On my own, I would never have come across this blog, but after talking to Missy, I got more interested. She shared their sky-high hit rate and how hard they have worked to achieve this. What was so exciting was to hear someone so successful in this medium, and a very nice person to boot.
I also loved the relationship between this mother and daughter who work together. They clearly had great affection for each other. You could see the pride in each others’ eyes, not to mention the delight at the fact that they were being very well compensated for their efforts.
I couldn’t help but noticing the tattoo on Missy’s arm. I saw it, but wanted to really get a closer look at what the message said. It reads, “I will choose the outcome.” Gail, her mother, elaborated. “Missy believes in wearing her intention.” Clearly, Missy has her eye on the prize and goes after it with intelligence and drive.
I choose to follow these women and learn more about how they’ve become so successful. I’ve committed to diving in deeper to social media as the way to achieve that knowledge. A large part of that commitment I owe to Miriam Salpeter who has been encouraging, guiding and nudging me forward via twitter. I’m in, Miriam!