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When Meredith Gray (not that Meredith Gray) received a diagnosis that she had breast cancer for the second time, rather than dive under the covers to hide, she mobilized into action to deal with her illness. She documented her process and progress in a brand new film entitled NAKED. On Wednesday night I had the extreme privilege of hosting an Artsy Girls viewing of Meredith’s documentary.
I had been a witness to parts of Meredith’s experience as a friend and colleague, but nothing compared to seeing her journey from beginning to the present exquisitely filmed by Lisa Simmons of Fingerpost Productions.
We see Meredith interviewing numerous physicians regarding her options for surgery and reconstruction. We watch her being poked with needles in hospital rooms, and another day modeling for art students at the Silvermine Guild Arts Center as a way of preserving her breasts through their paintings.
Over and over what struck me and the women in the audience was Meredith’s courage, determination and strength of character. She took on insurance companies, dealt with pain and even coped with her dog’s medical needs, which didn’t take a hiatus just because she was ill, in between chemo treatments.
Meredith emerges from it all victorious and vibrantly healthy. I highly recommend this film to every woman out there, whether she’s been diagnosed, knows someone who has, or simply wants to be in control of her healthy future.
To purchase your own copy of Meredith’s film, click here.
I work with creative, talented and successful women entrepreneurs. As a rule, the ideas come to them a mile a minute, but there’s inevitably the frustration of implementation. What do you do with all those brainstorms and bright ideas?
At my mastermind meeting last night the subject of hiring interns came up. There’s no time like the present to grab the talent that’s out there. With so few jobs available, the prospect of working for a woman-owned creative business simply for the experience is an opportunity whose time has come. It’s a buyer’s market.
When I was running my art business, I approached the Chair of the Art Department at nearby Norwalk High School to see if she could help me find students to work a couple of afternoons a week. What resulted was a long-term friendship with Mary Quinlan (now retired from that position and painting full-time) and a stream of highly motivated and gifted student interns who allowed me to focus on generating new ideas which they could implement for me.
So much has changed since those days, but the premise of having someone color in between the lines you’ve drawn remains. I think that tapping relationships for referrals is your best tool for finding quality help, but now there’s also facebook, craigslist and blogging to get the word out about the gap you want to fill.
My advice to the group last night was to offer credit (where applicable) rather than money when appropriate. What small business owner isn’t cash-strapped and what student wouldn’t want to be in the field learning from experience? But even paying $100 per week for 10 hours of labor seemed manageable and exciting to the women I coach. The goal to hire an intern was set. I offer it to you as well.
At lunch today Tommy Wyatt related to the audience of business owners advice his grandfather gave him: “Just kiss the girls who are leaning toward you.” Sage advice not only in the romantic arena, but also when pursuing the wide world of prospects and clients out there. In his talk at the noon Network Plus group run by Lisa Iselin and Valerie Aloisio, Tommy imparted other wisdom that was simple and practical.
He is a proponent of Appreciation Marketing which also happens to be the title of his book (along with co-author Curtis Lewsey). What had me take my pen out right away was Tommy telling us that he googled that term–appreciation marketing–and that nothing came up. That’s such a great way to name a new niche. He knew, as we all know, that everyone in business can benefit from showing appreciation to our clients and colleagues; that having top-of-mind awareness is a fundamental business-building tool.
In this world of instant everything, how much does it mean to you when someone actually makes the effort to reach you by phone to say, “Happy Birthday” vs. being one of hundreds on facebook to do the same? How about the hand-written thank you versus one that’s texted? Tommy gave example after example of successful business owners (Mary Kay, Jack Mitchell, Tom Hopkins) who built their empires on appreciating their clients.
What I most agreed with was the very good feeling acknowledging others’ generosity does for person acknowledging. Being on the lookout for who to thank alters your mindset and spirit on a daily basis. Hmmm, who do I need to thank today? Tommy Wyatt. What am I grateful for? My assistant Amelia’s agility in handling the multiple and varied to-do’s on my list for her. How will I let these two people know? Personalized cards expressing these sentiments.
I plan to implement this form of marketing more and more starting now. Watch your mailboxes for my appreciation of you!
Let me count the ways.
Yesterday was the WBDC (newly renamed Women’s Business Development Council) AM Business Breakfast attended by over 350 men and women. I’m still basking in the glow of the positive energy and vibrancy I received from being there.
First, there’s the connection to colleagues, especially colleagues who’ve become dear friends. We business owners spend so much time producing our goods and services that opportunities to meet and mingle in such a party atmosphere are fewer and further between. It felt like a class reunion filled with like-minded entrepreneurs and those who support us through funding and education, like the WBDC.
Then there’s the content. Peyton Patterson, Chairman and CEO of NewAlliance Bank, was the keynote speaker. In the brief 20 minutes she was on stage, Peyton got right to the issues of banks and small business, some of the challenges she’s faced (like when there was a WANTED poster with her face on it), and her mother’s voice always telling her to “Go for it!” She even addressed the question on everyone’s mind, what’s next after NewAlliance merges with First Niagara? I was tickled to hear her say she might be seated amongst us business owners at next year’s breakfast event. I’d love that!
Becky Surran has served as the interviewer at these events for several years now. I was equally fascinated watching Becky’s role as she skillfully and fluidly posed questions of Peyton. In my role as Speaker Chair, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the interview process unfold so that it will best serve the audience. Becky has been masterful in assuring that the message delivered is right for the WBDC audience.
Everyone attending the breakfast has a special feeling about the services WBDC provides. During the inspiring video about the organization and each speaker’s comments, attendees were reminded again and again what kind of contribution WBDC makes to Connecticut’s economics and citizens. The feel-good effect rubs off on each person there. Our presence supports the effort.
Also, it’s fun to dress up once in awhile and be seen. Women are endlessly generous with their attention and praise which I soaked in (and returned).
Even if you weren’t there, you can contribute or benefit from this exceptional Council. I hope you will.
The topic of Making Money in Your Jammies attracted quite a crowd Monday night when Rebecca Morgan spoke about Creating Income from Blogs, Teleseminars, Webinars and Subsequent Products. I’ve known Rebecca for many years through membership in the National Speakers Association. Every Rebecca Morgan talk I’ve attended (once you’ve heard her, you want more) has been chock full of current, succinct and useful information based on her own success with whatever she’s discussing.
I took notes fast and furiously during her entire talk Monday night and am inspired to begin creating audio versions of my blog as an alternate channel of information sharing. (Do you like that idea? Would you prefer to download and listen to mp3′s rather than hear from me in your inbox?) Rebecca talked about the future of Blooks, Vooks and other strange sounding, but imminent literary forms of the future. She likened google.com to sharks looking for chum, and that our job is to provide as much chum as possible to bring the sharks to our message.
Rebecca went on to tell us about the pro’s and con’s of webinars and teleseminars–the educational tools of our present and future–how more people will download an mp3 of a workshop than will attend. What she continuously pointed to was the entrepreneur’s job of getting his/her message out frequently and in formats that can be easily accessed by an increasingly technological society. Yes, there were a few groans–more work for us–but also a wave of head-nodding in recognition that she was our seer and this truth was coming from the mountaintop where Rebecca lives.
My biggest takeaway that night, which actually underscored and articulated what I’ve believed, is that becoming a blogger makes you hyper-vigilant about your topic. I am passionate about what gets business owners, particularly women business owners, motivated and into action. I’m the shark looking for the bait on this subject. Got any for me?
The woman checking out in front of me at Staples had fistfuls of ink cartridges. I asked her if she was a graphic designer. It opened the conversation, and she shook her head as her sales tally ran to the hundreds of dollars.
“Have you ever tried refilling your cartridges yourself?” I asked, ever the cost-conscious entrepreneur.
She hadn’t and got curious about my experience. I’ve been refilling my inkjet cartridges for years very happily and saving bundles in the process. I told her how I did it. I checked out the cashier’s expression as I was sensitive to taking sales away from the office supply chain. “I’m sorry,” I offered. “I don’t want to hurt your business.”
I had misread his look. He said, “No, I want to know for myself. How do you do it?” The customer ahead of me and I both laughed at his honesty. Hey, we’re all consumers, right?
Here’s the online company I order the refills from:
The ink bottles and syringes come with excellent step-by-step instructions. I know there are warning issued by the inkjet cartridge companies to only use their brands. But, it’s kind of like cutting the DO NOT REMOVE labels from mattresses. Who’s going to turn you in?
I had the privilege of speaking at the Westport Library last week. One of the services the library provides is free podcasts recorded during presenter’s talks. For those of you who missed it and/or would like to hear my message, follow the instructions below. BTW, the subtitle of my talk is How I Got On the Today Show (without a PR agent!).
Here are the instructions:
1. Go to www.westportlibrary.org .
2. Click on “Listen to podcasts” in the center column
3. Scroll down to the October 6 listing and click on the podcast link.
October 6, 2010
Jane Pollak: Business Special
Jane Pollak, entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and business coach, discussed plans for getting noticed in the media on a regular basis, on Wednesday, October 6, 2010.
Click on gray arrow to begin podcast.
It’s not only businesses that need to create branding messages these days. In her opening remarks to the assembled alumnae who gathered to meet and greet Mount Holyoke College‘s newly inaugurated President, Lynn Pasquerella told us of her current mission to tell our alma mater’s story in a more compelling way.
In addition to being a thought leader and passionate about the college community, Lynn sees her job as College President in an even broader perspective. Although I just tried (and failed) to listen to the 7:37am segment of The Academic Minute which streams twice daily, I appreciate the enthusiasm and momentum President Pasquerella is generating for MHC. She created this broadcast venue as a branding initiative on behalf of the College. Newman’s Own provided a 2-year grant for the project. I was inspired by the creativity and implementation of this undertaking.
“I need to be at the forefront of a rich intellectual life,” she told us in explanation of her agenda this year to speak all over the country. She is passionate about many issues including bringing safe water supplies to families in Kenya as well as addressing end-of-life issues (“Death is often seen as un-American.”) here in the US.
“I’m shameless,” she pronounced. I get the strong feeling that because of this leader’s efforts, awareness of Mount Holyoke will increase exponentially during her tenure.
I’m glad, because I believe this is what it takes in today’s environment. No longer can we sit in our ivory towers (academic or professional) and expect the world to come to us. It simply doesn’t work that way anymore, if it ever did. College presidents and entrepreneurs need to get out on a regular basis, toot their horns, be at the forefront of their industries and demonstrate through their examples what they and their companies, followers, students, etc. stand for.
341 Studios put on another informative and enlightening Fresh Intelligence Roundtable last Friday. This time the topic was Search Engine Marketing. David Hoffman did a great job of explaining the vast terrain of SEO and pay-per-click strategies. Like all the other attendees, I was furiously taking notes and trying to absorb all I could about this relatively new frontier.
One of the best parts of these breakfast sessions is the opportunity to network before and after with an exceptional group of business owners in the 341 Studios sphere. I had the chance to talk to Roberta Cohen, founder of Vector Expo Group. She said something so important to me about why she attends these events. “My clients hire me to filter through what’s out there and present it to them.”
So simply and brilliantly put. That’s what all of us entrepreneurs do. We attend, read, learn and filter what’s important to our audiences. Our unique blend of information, experience and recitation of what we know is our USP-Unique Selling Proposition-that gets us clients, followers and pay. We act as the eyes and ears of the most current and vital data while those who hire us perform the skills they do best.
My friend and colleague Doreen Birdsell once said, “Jane goes to all of these workshops so I don’t have to.” It’s our job to distill down what’s important in our field and deliver it to the people we serve. Fortunately, everything I’m out there learning is of great interest to me as well. That’s the joy of doing what you love.
I received more hits and more comments from my post on The Social Network than anything else I’ve written in the past 2 1/2 years. My blogmaster, Lena West, told me during our training sessions that it was important to hook into what’s happening in the world. Evidently, The Social Network is very happening. I got a lot of hits when I wrote about Michael Jackson’s death, Tiger Woods’ apology and LeBron James ascendancy, but nothing like the traffic generated by this new film and its ardent viewers.
Some of the comments were not that friendly. You can read them and see what I mean. I somehow got it in my head that the founder of Facebook’s name was Matt. Simple mistake. Sometimes I call my children by the wrong name. It’s not intentional. Just a brain disconnect in the moment. You’d think I had committed a sin by some of the reactions I got. It’s a funny world out there in cyberspace.
A few years ago I pulled my car into a parking lot. And you know how if you pull forward to the next row, you can exit straight ahead instead of having to back out. I must have gotten a little too close to the hulking SUV next to me. It happens. It’s happened to you, right? What do you do? Do you say a little something under your breath–a mild oath? I do, sometimes. When I got back to my car, the SUV owner, now departed, had left a note under my windshield wiper with a two syllable insult in a rather childish scrawl. Spoiled the next hour of my day. Until I shared it with someone. I figured that the person who wrote it must be very angry, and that I happened to receive the brunt of that anger that day. It wasn’t really about me. That’s what I have to believe about people who want to dismiss anything I have to say because it doesn’t meet their standards.
I happen to know this for a fact, because I used to be one of those types. No more. Forgiving myself and having compassion for the human condition has softened my harsh, judgmental and critical voice. May those critics preying on others’ misdemeanors find that compassion for themselves as well.