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The agenda for the evening includes my sharing some new lessons I’ve learned, recounting some that have popped up again for me, and sharing the story of how I got to be good at bragging! You won’t want to miss that one.
Even if you haven’t read my book, you’re still welcome to come and enjoy the festivities. The company will be awesome, the food magnificent, and the atmosphere welcoming and festive. Here’s a link to pay and join me.
A colleague of mine specializes in coaching people who give high stakes presentations. While not my specialty, I did have the honor of helping Susan Beallor-Snyder prepare for her own high stakes speech which she delivered this past Saturday afternoon.
Susan’s father, Bob, passed away in August. The memorial service to honor his life was on the 27th, and Susan wanted to share her memories about him. Having never really spoken in public, she was understandably nervous. Addressing 100 friends and family added to the fear. Not that they would be judging her. Anytime you put yourself in front of an audience, it’s a scary proposition.
Susan prepared like crazy. She composed a beautiful collection of related stories that she cherished when thinking about her dad–his passion for food, his love of nature and his gentle spirit. She rehearsed a lot. She had trusted allies actually listen to her give her talk. I was one of the fortunate one who had a sneak preview via skype.com.
Her talk was a huge success. Susan did the most important thing a speaker can do. She was 100% authentic. For the time it took Susan to give her speech, her father came to life for all who were present. I know when a talk connects with me because I get goosebumps, or God-bumps as a friend once called them. I was covered with them throughout Susan’s talk. On one level I felt her love for her father coming through, especially as she was telling the story of how “…my father wouldn’t hurt a fly–REALLY! He had a bug-catcher and would catch the flies in our house and release them outside.” Her stories touched something deep inside me and my body reacted, as bodies do when a sweet truth is told.
And also I got goosebumps because this woman, whom I love and admire, was taking a huge risk and succeeding. I could see her glowing as the audience responded with laughter and applause to her comments. After everyone had spoken and the crowd broke up for refreshments, I went up to Susan to give her a hug and to ask her how it felt. Her huge smile and response said it all. “It felt great!”
As I was taking a long walk this morning, I was reminiscing a distant past Thanksgiving morning and an early trip to Stew Leonard’s where I had ventured to pick up a needed grocery item. Half of Fairfield County used go to Stew’s on that holiday Thursday morning, long before Costco and Whole Foods arrived on the scene. Typically, it was a reunion of faces, memories and nods of recognition. The one I’m thinking of was in the mid 80′s and was actually the last time I saw Hilary alive.
Some years before, as I was working on details for packaging my eggs more elegantly, I was eagerly thumbing through The Black Book which was–pre-Internet–how one might find successful graphic designers, illustrators and packaging experts. When I came across the ad for Hilary Bunger Package Design I got that good-nervous intuitive sensation in my body. Yes! A woman will understand what I’m trying to do and maybe even lend a helping hand to a young artist trying to get noticed in The Big World.
I took a risk. I called the company line and asked to speak to Hilary. “What is this in reference to?” I was asked. I explained that I was making a career out of decorating eggs in the Ukrainian tradition and had run into a design issue around the packaging of these art objects. Before I ever learned how to use a Dremel tool to make perfect holes in the shells, through which I extracted the insides, I used a straight pin to pierce the shell and then painstakingly increased its size until I could blow it out. I was looking for a way to cover the unsightly hole that was left. I needed a solution, and preferably an attractive one. I was hoping that Ms. Bunger might share some ideas with me.
“You may be in luck,” said the voice which belonged to a son of Hilary Bunger. “My father happens to love Ukrainian Easter eggs and may be able to help you. Can you come by today at 1pm? He’s got an opening on his calendar then.”
Long story short, Mr. Hilary Bunger generously designed a gold label with my signature on it which ideally covered that pesky hole in the egg elegantly and efficiently. I don’t even remember if I paid him in eggs or if he even accepted anything but my thanks. What I do remember and what brought me to a big smile this morning, was the generosity of spirit that he extended to me that day. For the few years afterwards that we knew each other he watched my progress with joy.
Seeing that familiar face at Stew’s nearly 30 years ago popped into my mind and reminded me of what this life is all about. I could never pay Hilary Bunger for all he gave me. But, I hope that his power of example continues to inform how I give back today and always.
It’s hard to sum up Donna Elle. She’s an award-winning interior designer. She’s created her own brand and lifestyle aesthetic. And she’s a woman living full-out in her relationships with her family and her clients. But, she’d hit an impasse a year ago, healed from that, and wanted a reality check for right now. She called me for my Dream Peek Experience.
After listening carefully to all that has gone on in Donna’s life, I asked her a few questions, powerful questions as we call them in the coaching world. I could sense her taking them in in a particular way. It seemed that Donna, while focusing on amassing a fortune and a following, had neglected what was truly important to her. She willingly took on the assignment of creating a vision board which would give her the opportunity to focus on what was most meaningful to her and no one else. She admitted that she had already cut out stacks of images that spoke to her heart and soul, but had never given herself the time or permission to assemble them.
Her homework was to create her vision board within a week. Our call actually ended in less than the allotted hour, because Donna couldn’t wait to get started. Less than a week later, she emailed me the results. In our follow-up call, I could hear the difference in her voice and heart.
Although the images are quite small here, you can get the sense of peace and serenity that her board exudes. The photos are of open spaces, calm environments, beauty and nature. These are all the things that Donna (and most of us!) crave in our lives. While Donna had been toiling away at designing the elements to create that spiritual design essence for a client base, she had shut herself off from actually having those real-time delights of nature in her own life on a daily basis.
After creating her vision board and hanging it front and center in her studio, Donna has already begun to enjoy the benefits of bringing into her life that which she is thinking about. Earl Nightingale said, “We become what we think about.” Donna is now feeding her eyes and soul with visions and thoughts of what brings her joy and peace.
What are you focusing your attention on?
Denise DiGrigoli and Troy Amuso, along with daughter Ava, hosted an opening reception at their Southport gallery, Troy Fine Art, last night to a crowd of loyal supporters and well-wishers. I captured this image of an ebullient Denise with her equally joyful banker during the party. Troy Fine Arts premiere location on the Boston Post Road in Southport has already driven more traffic to the shop since opening this month than their off-the-beaten path location in Fairfield had for several months at a time. Like they say in real eastate, it’s all about location, location and location.
To take this risk in today’s economy is a challenge that only someone like Denise embraces, but embrace it she does. You can tell from her incredible exuberance that simple hard work and know-how are not enough to fill this entrepreneur’s risk-taking appetite. Opening a new location in a high traffic zone, even with the higher overhead, is exactly what was in order.
In addition to the art on the wall and pedestals by Elise Black, Denise recruited the talents of caterer Along Came Carol and silk flower designer extraordinaire Bea Schriver to elevate the event aesthetically.
Bea’s soaring arrangements helped set the tone of elegance, a hallmark of her work. Denise knows how to bring talented people together, and even more important, she knows how to give them a showcase worthy of their talents. That’s what she does for artists as well as collectors. No wonder she’s so successful.
…appreciating people on a daily basis. I signed up with SendOutCards a few months ago. I recently heard one of the industry leaders speak and since then have been sending out two cards a day to people I want to acknowledge. Sometimes it’s a birthday card, a thank you for coming to my networking event (left), or simply I’m-thinking-of-you. I LOVE the reactions I’m getting and the fun I’m having getting creative with the SOC inventory and my digital images.
I want to share some of them with you.
I sent this one to my dear friend and wardrobe consultant Scarlett after she wrote an excellent blog post on thinning hair–
And this one to my good friend Meredith who brought her documentary NAKED for a screening in my media room, where she provided wine, snacks and popcorn for the attendees–
And this one I created for a colleague who, after hearing my daughter Lindsey’s audio foreword to my book, sent me a photo of her daughter and said she hoped that one day that little girl would grow up and provide the foreword for her mom’s book–
I really do appreciate and care about so many people. I know how important it is to let them know, so am grateful for the SendOutCards ease of use and convenience. (Let me know if you’d enjoy hearing more about this cool service. I’d love to share it with you.)
Sharon Leichsenring, artist extraordinaire, paints murals in people’s homes and workspaces. She doesn’t depend upon people spelling her name correctly to find her at SharonPaintsMurals.com–a wise move when you have a challenging last name to remember, pronounce and spell. Make it easy for people to find you.
Sharon and I met a few years ago through EWN – the Entrepreneurial Woman’s Network. I’ve been enjoying Sharon’s newsletters and seeing her at my Remarkable Women’s Network events since we met.
Last week Sharon attended my talk to the Working Women’s Forum in Sandy Hook, CT where I shared my top strategies for business success. One sorely overlooked tip I included was saying “thank you” as part of your sales cycle as well as everyday courtesy. While email and phone thank you’s are fine, the hand-written thank you note stands out now more than ever. Sharon added the cherry on top to my suggestion.
“One of my clients was so pleased with the mural I painted for them that they had a stamp made of the painting. As a thank you, they sent me a sheet of these precious images. I now get to decide who is ‘stamp-worthy’ when I write my thank you’s!”
Sign up to receive Sharon’s newsletters and find out more about her offerings here.
I so enjoyed having lunch with Eileen Fisher yesterday at the Pierre Hotel in NYC. She’s been a role model for me for the past 15 years, so seeing her again was a joyful experience.
I did have to share her with about 300 other working women, but I didn’t mind. We had all signed up to attend the WCBS Radio Working Women’s Luncheon. Eileen graciously stood by the entrance greeting the audience as we filed into the dining area. I was thrilled to shake her hand again and thank her for allowing me to share her beautiful stores with my Remarkable Women’s Network attendees.
As you can see from the photo on the right, it was a packed house. Eileen was the first to be interviewed by Pat Carroll, WCBS-AM Morning Anchor. Waiters circulating and latecomers getting seated made for a rather chaotic atmosphere. Eileen did what I’ve come to admire her for. She recognized what was going on, her own comfort (or lack of) level with the ambiance, and made a request.
“This is what I do before meetings in my company. Can we all get quiet and take three breaths?” It took a moment for everyone to even hear her ask for this. She led the group in getting quieter. “Breathe and say to yourself, ‘Let go.’”
“Take a breath, and say ‘Be still.’”
“Breathe and say, ‘Now what?’”
It got much quieter and the interview continued. I was impressed with Eileen’s courage, in the exact moment of discomfort and disconnect with the space we were in, to step beyond the expected–just go along to get along–to ask for what she needed. We needed it too, but someone had to name it, and she did.
When asked about bouncing back from failures, Eileen openly shared about a disaster for her company in the early days. It involved a fabric–French terry–that unexpectedly stretched and contorted the garments her company was producing. It forced her to take a keener look at her offerings, re-evaluate and extend her line. Although it was a ‘crushing blow,’ from it came her greatest success–a diversified line in a variety of fabrics.
Another audience member said to Eileen, “You look pretty unbruised. [She's quite beautiful and serene in person.]. How do you do that?” To which Eileen candidly shared, “Oh, I’m bruised. But I get up again.”
“I always went to therapy,” she added. It proved a means for helping her understand her own intentions.
What a courageous, generous and soulful woman Eileen Fisher is! She continues to inspire me, and I hope you, too, as I share this.
I had the pleasure of speaking for WBDC last night to aspiring, emerging and seasoned business owners. When sharing my success with the press, which was a piece of cake during my egg decorating days, the question arose: What if you’re in a service business? How do you get press? Great question. Not so easy.
I probed. The woman raising the issue is involved in education. She was clearly deeply committed and caring. I asked her if she’d seen Waiting for Superman. She nodded. She’d been first in line when it came out. “Why not host a forum of concerned citizens to discuss what’s happening in American education? That’s newsworthy.” She liked the idea. I hope she runs with it.
I believe that if you are passionate about what you’re doing and committed to getting your name out there as an expert in the field, you can achieve that. Start where you are–in your community. Begin a conversation, then invite more people in for the next session.
Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Taking the next step–listing the dozen concerned citizens to invite, securing a room, setting a date–takes courage. It’s what separates successful entrepreneurs from wannabes.
Today, take that next step.