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I received a beautiful invitation in the mail last month for an event I’ll be attending tomorrow night, March 31. The pink sticky note on the outside of it was from Linda Hunt, a current client in my Mastermind Group. It read, “Jane, this is a wonderful event I thought you would enjoy. Please attend as my guest + feel free to bring a friend.”
What attracted me, in addition to the handwritten note which was the closer, was:
- The name of the event–Hearts of Hope Women’s Benefit
- The tag line for the benefit–Women who can…for women who can’t
- The cause– Bridgeport Rescue Mission’s Women’s Ministries for Homeless Women
- The guest speaker–Elisa Morgan, Author, She Did What She Could
- The invitation to bring a friend
After reading the bio of the keynote speaker who has authored over 15 books on mothering, I immediately thought of my friend Leigh Scott who is currently authoring her own book on parenting. When she said “yes” to the invitation, I let Linda know her table would be two women fuller.
This morning I called Linda to find out more about this group. Now I’m even more excited than I was when I originally rsvp’d. The premise is to get women together in a room. We women understand how powerful that energy is. This group started two years ago with 150 women attending, had 300 last year and expects 500 tomorrow evening. (There’s still room for two more at Linda’s table. Contact me asap if you’re able to join us.)
Linda’s interest began when she ‘stumbled upon’ the non-profit Alpha Home (see their mission below*) after being hired do handle their bookkeeping. Her deep compassion for the homeless took this job opportunity beyond the office and into her heart. Hence, her hosting tables at these events and spreading the word about how women can help each other. Will you join me, Linda and Leigh? (BTW, it’s free–sponsored by underwriters who believe in this mission and support it with their dollars.)
*WELCOME TO ALPHA HOME
At Alpha Home, our goal is to provide women with an affordable, safe haven where they can identify and overcome the core issues underlying their chemical addictions, regain their independence, and rejoin their communities as healthy, whole women.
At what point do you quit the chase?
I deposited a check without an envelope in early March via the automatic device that scans them and produces an image of the deposited entry. The $20 check was a Western Union money order and was read by the scanner as $200. That was how it was entered in the bank’s record. I entered it as $20 on my business register, figuring it would all get resolved in the wash.
When I got a $12 charge on my account because of the mis-read amount, I balked. I knew it was a $20 deposit. At the end of the day, the bank would have $20 in their coffers, so I anticipated that I’d receive a notice saying they had made an error and that the deposit was actually only $20, which of course I knew. Not so fast.
After multiple phone calls by my assistant, to whom I pay $20 per hour, I made the executive decision to not press any further once I got the $12 charge reversed. I still didn’t have my $20 deposit credited to my account. Amelia called Western Union who, for a $15 charge, will re-issue the check if I would present them with a notarized letter from my bank. I don’t think so. The principle of delegating is to pay someone fewer dollars so that you can make your optimum amount in the same time and still come out ahead. Once Amelia had spent over 45 minutes on this issue, I stopped the process (although my gut is still churning a bit).
Since making that wayward ATM deposit in early March, I see that the machine now asks the depositor to verify the amount of the deposit and doesn’t leave that decision up to the eyes of the scanner. I don’t think it was just because of my $20 incident that this option was implemented, but it will prevent further errors like this.
Do you always know when to let go? My $20 lesson is to be 100% observant when making deposits like this. I cop to sometimes texting or talking on the phone when performing this kind of task. No more! I did get a blog post out of it, which does have value.
While I did skip a few classes at InfusionCon, I made sure to be in a front row seat for Brian Tracy‘s afternoon keynote on Wednesday. He’s a hero of mine. I listened to his audio programs (on tape!) repeatedly when I was sitting in my art studio for hours on end decorating eggs. How to Master Your Time and the Psychology of Achievement taught me skills and disciplines that I have continued to practice for 20 years.
Here are some new ideas I picked up or was reminded of:
- The two biggest problems for business owners are sales and balance.
- If you come up with an idea that works, your competition will steal it. [It's not personal; just the nature of business.]
- ALL business skills are learnable. (I have to remember that one around my twitter resistance.)
- The #1 issue for small businesses is cash flow.
- Fewer than 5% of businesses make the $1 million mark.
- The difference between marketing and selling: Marketing is getting people to raise their hand; selling is converting them to buy yours (taking the money out of their pockets and handing it to you).
- The most important word in business is ASK! For the sale, but also about what you don’t understand or need help with.
- The English translation for “Let me think it over”–when selling, is “Goodbye forever.”
- It’s important to know the demographic of your customer, but it’s more important to know the psychographic–what are their thoughts, feelings, fears, aspirations, etc.
- When you identify your prospect’s primary fear and remove it AND deliver what you promise, the sale is yours (e.g. money-back guarantee)
Having seen and heard this business icon, I returned home content.
I’m in Phoenix, AZ attending InfusionCon, the conference for users of Infusionsoft.com programming. There’s a very sophisticated, tech-savvy population of marketers here who seem to be using the program phenomenally well judging by the enthusiasm level and results being touted.
I arrived late Monday without my marketing partner who suffered a broken ankle a couple of hours before our departure time. I miss her! It’s like being in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language and without the benefit of my translator. I’m lost.
I’m doing the best I can, attending several sessions and taking notes. But I must confess, I’m not even sure what the questions are to ask. At 4:30pm today Brian Tracy is the keynote speaker. I’m a longtime fan of his having listened to his audio series when I was just beginning to regard myself as a business owner. I’m excited to hear what he has to say.
Most of the talks, rightfully, have been by business owners who are having great success using infustionsoft.com. I’m impressed with what they’re doing, but somehow can’t relate. I’m re-evaluating how I want my marketing to serve me and my customers. While I admire the others’ success and strategies, I never want to be a Crazy Eddie (if you remember his tactics) or anyone who makes you “SAY YES” after every exhortation to do so. I don’t want millions of customers. I want dozens of customers. Maybe I don’t need what they’re selling. This is definitely causing me to think.
Between this morning’s session and Brian Tracy’s talk, I played hooky. I have a good friend and colleague in the area, who picked me up at the hotel and got me out of Dodge. I took this photo while I was waiting for her to come. I’m looking on the bright side of this experience. With the extended winter back home, I’m grateful to be in sunny Phoenix where there’s not a cloud in the sky and I’ve got my walking sandals on.
In my WBDC Fast Trac Growth Venture course this past Saturday the discussion focused on what market segment brings in the most revenue. One student’s report carefully illustrated how eight customers brought in the bulk of their company’s revenues. Most people in business know the Pareto Principle, and here it was in action.
The question then is how does your business nurture those relationships? What do you do to keep the top 20% of your clientele happy, buying and telling their friends about you? We all brainstormed and discussed the pro’s and con’s of direct mail, ads, events and coupons. What’s so great about these sessions is that while one person’s case was being analyzed, I got to think about my own offerings and how to leverage the most successful part of my market.
Everyone attending on Saturday agreed that, although the people who pay to have access to you through lower-end items or events are valuable, it is critical to pay the most attention and time to the identified group who pay the most. Designing special events for that segment is effort and money well-spent. The positive energy and excitement around that marketing focus will filter through your business. It may activate some of the other clients to move up to the ranks of the higher end. In my case, attendees at my networking events may sign on for a Mastermind Group or as 1:1 clients. For the business that was being spotlighted, it meant individual customers spending more on their product lines.
For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know how often I bring winks from the Universe into my writing, especially in the form of song lyrics. I’ve been listening to the cast album of [title of show] recently, so a song from there kept coming into my mind relating to my best customers. It’s called Nine People’s Favorite Thing (9pft), and the chorus has these words:
I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing
Than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.
Lots of thoughts streamed through my head as I put together folders for my newest Mastermind Group that started Wednesday night. I got a kick out of how my marketing materials have evolved over the years. I love how I’m able to put a branded label through my printer with the participant’s name on it using my favorite font. That I have some nice reproductions of press I’ve been featured in to fill one side of the packet. That I have a cool postcard cover of my book and classy business cards and a MOO blog card to include.
Then the gremlins pop up with, “And what about this goals sheet for the group? Your contact info isn’t anywhere to be found!” “Your contract is non-descript. Pathetic!” Etc.
Of course, none of the remarkable women business owners who attended were there for my marketing materials. That’s just my inner critic giving me a hard time each time I start something new. They may or may not have noticed, but that’s what I was focusing on the day before we were to meet.
When I began my coaching practice in 2002 one of my very first clients drove to my home office in CT from Northampton, MA. We had a two-hour session in person (now, most of my coaching is by phone) from 10am – noon. She was thrilled with what she walked away with in terms of clarity and direction. But, she said almost giggling, what really stood out for her was that I hadn’t prepared a 4-course lunch for her when we were done. Of course, that never occurred to me to be an expectation. For this woman, it was a revelation. Can anyone identify with this?
During the final session of my winter Mastermind Group, I had participants close their eyes as I read three visualizations. We then debriefed each woman’s to establish a Life Purpose statement. Here’s what happened with Harriette Trevino, co-owner of Bull’s Head Printers in Monroe, CT.
At the start of our last meeting together, Harriette–high on the success of an event she’d hosted the night before–announced to everyone that she was “fully activated.” Like every other member of the Mastermind Group, Harriette had experienced the profound change that occurs when a group of like-minded individuals work together towards committed goals. For Harriette, it was a deep shift in her perspective on the job ahead. She was willing to do whatever it takes to be successful–meeting prospects in her new location, listening to and serving their needs with enthusiasm.
When it was Harriette’s turn to share the thoughts and images she envisioned, the Life Purpose statement that emerged was this: “I am the gentle breeze that lifts and inspires.”
The next day I received an email message from Harriette oozing with joy. After sleeping on her Life Purpose statement for one night, she got a note from a colleague thanking her for the event she’d hosted:
On a side note, your follow-up email below is no less masterfully written than was your MCing last night’s event. Not only were your remarks upbeat and the intros smooth as silk, but you lifted up everyone else who spoke as well. So big kudos to you for a super well done job.
Nice when you get an affirmation like that so quickly.
I hate negativity.
I attended a lunch meeting last week with people I’d never met before. There was an informational component to the event, then Q+A and discussion among the participants. In my mind, it quickly devolved into an ain’t-it-awful session on the woes of the today’s society. I won’t participate in that conversation, expressed my thoughts as a contrarian, but didn’t get any traction or support.
I won’t be returning to that group.
Last night I had some of my neighbors over for dinner. I noticed a similar direction beginning to happen during the hors d’oeuvres part of the evening–negativity predominating the conversation. I’m okay, for a little while, talking about the disaster in Japan and the tragic bus accident on the New England thruway. But when that pessimism permeates the room and becomes powerlessness over circumstances, I need to speak up.
Something goes on in the pit of my stomach which I used to ignore. At one time in my life, I thrived on the drama of those feelings. I now recognize them (almost) immediately and decide if an action is warranted. I take the responsibility for turning the tide or making a hasty exit. Being in that unconstructive place no longer works for me.
Because it was my home and I was the hostess, I made the decision to make a request. “For the next few hours, how about if we focus only on what’s positive and happy going on in our lives and around us?” I didn’t have to ask twice. It was a wonderful evening that left me filled not only with good food, but also good feelings.
I challenge you (and myself) to take responsibility for the conversation you’re in.
These are some of the preparatory questions Lauren Agnelli, the creator and host of Finding Bliss: A Show About People Who Are Following Their Hearts, sent me before our taping of her show this week.
Lauren has been following her bliss by creating this TV program and has 31 interviews to her credit. She gets to select people she wants to interview and get to know them better as well as give them air time. That’s a win-win formula. Our half hour together flew by as Lauren is an animated listener as well as host. I hope you’ll tune in on April 21 (if you live in the Clinton, CT area) to hear my answers. Lauren will also post the interview to vimeo.com, which I’ll link my readers to as well.
Re the question of mentors, I shared about my beloved college professor, Jim Cavanaugh (who I know faithfully reads my blogs), who recognized my design skills and empowered me to move forward in that direction. He entrusted me with the design of the Mount Holyoke College Summer Theatre logo (the ‘summer sun’ on the poster below) which defined the organization for 30 years. Jim made me the decision maker at the print shop long before the word ‘font’ was in everyone’s vocabulary. I designed and helped build four sets during the first summer of the Summer Theatre program and did logo designs and program and poster art for several productions in my senior year. Jim was a key person in my life for finding my bliss. Who was key in your life?
Joe Connolly, who gives business updates regularly on CBS radio news, caught my ear the other morning with the report that soon airlines will charge customers for the ‘privilege’ of pre-selecting their seats. Of course, this ‘privilege’ has been standard-operating-procedure and free for all the years I’ve been flying, as has bringing luggage at no extra cost. But all of that is changing. Like every other company trying to stay afloat in the new economy, airlines are nickel and diming in increasingly unpleasant ways.
As a frequent flyer, this caught my attention. With flights scheduled (and seats already reserved, thank goodness) to Phoenix, Milwaukee, LA and San Diego in the near future, I’m feeling the squeeze. (NB – We only pay attention to the news that affects us. I’m certain that my NYC-based sister, who hasn’t driven a car in decades, couldn’t tell you the price of gas, while I know by heart the cheapest pumps in town.)
Listening to the cast album of Les Miz while on the treadmill this morning, I was smiling, then sneering, at the lyrics to Master of the House:
Charge them for the lice
Extra for the mice
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
Here a little slice
There a little cut
Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
I promise not to start charging for reading my blog.