You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2011.
I had the distinct honor and privilege of dining with esteemed members of Moffly Media as well as my co-panelists for the upcoming 4th Annual Women in Business event at Dolce in Norwalk. The theme is Entrepreneurship. I met Michele Ross of Letarte Swimwear, Kendra Farn of PGaryn Productions, Demi Ferraris of Vineyard Vines and Marit Price who will moderate the event. (I’m feeling very brunette…)
Kathy McShane, who heads up Ladies Who Launch in SW Connecticut is already a valued colleague. She was there and will be on the panel as well. What a great time we had! The purpose of getting together was to review the questions we’ll be asked as panelists, but we were having so much fun getting to know each other–and the table was rectangular, not round–which was less conducive to group conversation, so we bonded royally and promised to email our moderator with questions and comments.
I said to my table-mates, it felt like a rehearsal dinner for a wedding. The big event is coming, and now we know each other and will look forward to being together again.
I tell you this insider information to share that this is typical of how it is in business. Circumstances aren’t always as you expect or desire them to be, so you go with what is. The Marketing Director from Moffly made the wise call to allow the relationships among us to take seed and blossom.
If you want to see the gorgeous flowering of this garden, please join me on Tuesday, May 24 from 5:30-8:30pm. I heard that they’ve already sold more advance tickets than in any of the previous years, so please order soon. I wouldn’t want you to miss it.
Can you imagine going to Russia, learning the language and starting your own business there? That’s the equivalent of what Alfya Murtazina did. (Yes, I know that Russia hasn’t got quite the entrepreneurial support systems that we do, but…) She arrived here, learned a new language, went to work for someone else for several years and last year opened up her own salon in New Canaan.
Last night 30 remarkable women gathered in her beautiful, serene spa for an evening of inspiration and networking. Alfya shared some of her story and then joined the 5 other experts to offer tips, strategies and a new perspective to each attendee. Many thanks to Betsy Krobot, Scarlett DeBease, Liz Ball and Tracy Boyce who also contributed their vast expertise.
While doing a Discovery Session with a new client, she said that her gremlins weren’t necessarily voices of negativity as is common with most of the women I work with. “Who do you think you are?” and “You’re not that good.”
Instead, what prevented her from moving forward with her vision were the emergencies of others. “Wow!” I thought. To have that kind of self-knowledge is impressive. Most people see themselves as victims of circumstance. This smart woman recognized that her fire-extinguishing behaviors and charitable acts of kindness were sabotaging her own momentum. In order to actualize her visions, she may have to put others’ necessities in their proper place–behind, not in front of, her own desires.
Let’s talk about other people’s emergencies for a minute. Can you relate? Having to drive a child’s overdue assignment to the school office? Filling out a form for another capable family member who hasn’t gotten around to it, and the deadline is nearing? Taking on a leadership role in a volunteer organization because someone’s mother is in the hospital and she had to step down? Any warning flags flying here?
Several years ago, although in my gut I can feel it like it was yesterday, I had tickets to a matinee in NYC. I was meeting a friend, and I was running late. I had driven into the city and had to unload my car and get to the theater before 2pm. I saw a parking lot a couple of blocks from the theater. There were several cars ahead of me, so I got in line, my temperature rising as I watched the parking attendant take his time with each person in the queue. My face, I’m sure, reflected my annoyance. I believe the attendant slowed down intentionally, simply to get back at me for projecting so much hostility.
I was at my wit’s end by the time he got to me. “Boy, this really took a long time,” I all but screamed at him. “I’m going to be late for my show. It doesn’t seem to matter to you that we all have shows to get to.” (I don’t think I actually said that, but I felt like it. )
The guy must have been reading some self-help books that I had not yet become apprised of. He said, “Don’t make your lack of planning become my emergency.”
I made it to the theater in time for the curtain, but was fuming throughout the first act. I hostilely repeated his words to my friend without getting much sympathy back as I recall. By the end of Act 2, I had digested the experience. By the time I’d had a cup of tea and walked back to the parking lot, I was ready to apologize, which I did. His look softened as he handed me my keys.
Do you play the role of victim because you haven’t put your plans into place in a way that serves you? Are you letting others’ priorities or necessities block out your precious time? Have you felt trapped behind your own prison bars, even though there are openings to your left, right and behind you?
When you begin to take full responsibility for your own heart’s desires and put your own plan into place, the ordinary gremlins and the ones that come disguised by others’ requests will subside. Action is the magic word. Take some.
If you haven’t bought Tina Fey’s new #1 bestselling book yet, don’t wait! As soon as I read the NYTimes review a couple of weeks ago I placed my order (I know, very old-fashioned) and waited for the Wells Fargo wagon to deliver it. I was not disappointed. I read most of it on my train ride to and from DC this weekend. I didn’t laugh out loud, but I was grinning the whole time. She’s a powerful role model.
I adored everything about Bossypants, but the two biggest takeaways for me were the luck factor and the self-doubt piece. Every woman entrepreneur should read this book. Even though Tina Fey isn’t self-employed, what she describes, and the brilliance with which she articulates her stories, cuts right to the heart of anyone who puts herself on the line each day.
As someone who would like to attain more of a share of public attention, I look at Tina Fey as a huge success with a swift journey. In reading her book, it became crystal clear that this woman has paid her dues. This was a great reminder of how long it takes and how the stars need to line up to help you. Although I’d heard about her through Mean Girls, Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, it wasn’t until her Sarah Palin impersonations that she became a household name.
Now think about that. Can you control who’s going to run for Vice President of the United States AND bear a resemblance to you? Are you creative enough to make something like this up? I believe that there’s a greater force out there and our job is, as Tina Fey states, is to do the work we love. She loves her work and admits that she has her dream job. That’s the deal. You need to be following your bliss, your passion. Even though it might take a minor miracle, like resembling Sarah Palin, you’re still traveling the road that has your name on it.
The other piece, and I so totally love her honesty, is Tina Fey’s “ability to turn good news into anxiety [which] is rivaled only by my ability to turn anxiety into chin acne.”
Although I wrote recently about not comparing ourselves to others, it gave me heart to know that this icon is as insecure as I am.
If you’re not convinced yet, take it from one of the testimonials on the back cover:
“Totally worth it.” –Trees
P.S. Today’s fantasy: That Tina Fey will read this blog post and want to become my BFF.
I’m in Washington, DC attending the Smithsonian Craft Show, a mecca event for this country’s artists. One of my clients is exhibiting here for the first time, and I came to see her and her new work. Liz Alpert Fay, textile artist extraordinaire, designed an elegant boutique to showcase her work in the National Building Museum which serves as the backdrop for this show.
In one corner of her booth I noticed a pedestal next to her exquisite featured wall hanging. On it was a crystal bowl filled with waters and rocks. The rocks were quite beautiful, but I wasn’t putting 2+2 together. Then Liz explained. She had taught a workshop in Michigan, and before traveling out there she researched interesting places to visit. She read about Petoskey stones found on beaches in that state. They have a unique property–the geometric shapes on the surface– as you can see in this photograph, that becomes astonishingly beautiful when wet or polished.
Although Liz’s visit to Michigan was for the purpose of teaching a workshop, she is always on the lookout for interesting things in nature to inspire her. She, along with many other people on the beach, selected dozens of the Petoskey stones to take home with her. Rather than carry them through security at the airport, she shipped them home via UPS.
And then she set about designing a rug based on their beauty. Here’s a close-up and the full piece:
I feel so fortunate to work with people like Liz who are living their passion and sharing it with the world.
What business owner wouldn’t feel blessed to have 20 ready-to-work-for-you 20-somethings lining up for face time? That was the premise of an event I attended on Monday night at BeSpoke restaurant in New Haven–an elegant venue with excellent service.
Brilliantly organized by the founders of Super Interns, Julie Braun and Michelle Demers, the FastMatch™ night was exactly that. As you can see in the photo, employers sat on the banquette side of the tables and the soon-to-be interns rotated around the chairs on the inside of the room. Each match lasted 8 minutes. Scripts were provided with questions to ask of each other. Clearly, the young men and women who showed up had been primed to come with resumes, dress professionally and have a cheerful attitude. They all did.
Julie and Michelle were assisted by their own interns who took our names and information at the door and guided us to the location, handed out goodie bags at the end, took photos (exhibit A above) and generally helped the flow of the evening. The two women managed the time efficiently and explained what they were all about as well. Near the end of the event, they put out an offer to the employers to learn more about working with interns.
I attend a LOT of events. Very few (341 Studios immediately come to mind) are as well managed as this. I say this in my blog, because I value your time and would only recommend attending programs of high value. This was one.
I met about ten candidates, many of whom I would gladly find opportunities for. One has already followed up with me. I’m waiting for his references. I have a specific research project in mind for him.
In addition to baseball, another national pastime that I’m keenly aware of is comparing ourselves to others. Or, more particularly, comparing our entrepreneurial successes (or lack thereof) to others. It’s actually the ‘lack thereof’ I specifically want to address.
Every client I have and colleague I know (at least the ones who are being completely honest), at some point in her business life, feels that she is coming up short. When we’re riding high on sales, opportunities, press or personal successes, we’re less likely to play the comparison game. But when things are slow and our minds are not as occupied with how to spend all the money we’re making, those unfriendly gremlins pop up and remind us that our competitor or role model has reached a pinnacle we’re still aspiring to.
A few weeks ago I was reading about Cathie Black who’d been appointed as Chancellor of NY’s public schools. For a moment I wished that I was a personal friend of the Mayor’s and could get a high profile appointment based on his knowledge of my past successes. Of course, as fantasies go, this had no basis in reality. Just a desire to be recognized and rewarded, an admitted value of mine.
Now that Ms. Black has been unceremoniously dumped, I can let go of that comparison. I never compare the bad times that these wonder-people also have to traverse. Somehow they magically recover from the body blows with a comic book balloon “POW!” Ugly crying and dripping noses are the stuff of mere mortals only.
My point? When you begin comparing yourself to others, be sure to measure ALL the components of their lives and see how you fare then. You’ve heard the adage, if we all put our troubles on the table, we’d choose our own again to take back and live with. As with selecting a role model, no cherry-picking allowed. If you want to cook like Julia Child, don’t expect to also look like Anne Hathaway and play tennis like Venus Williams. Consider the entire package.
I had to bring my car in for its 5000 mile service check-up this morning. Although blogging was on my schedule today, I never expected to find inspiration at my car dealership. But there it was. Right on the keyboard of my service guy. His script!
I remember the first time I heard someone mention creating a script for a phone call. I thought it was cheating. Since then, I’ve come to realize, it’s good business. Think about what you want to say ahead of time. Type up a script and rehearse it over and over until it feels natural to speak the words. Then have it right near the phone so that you can refer to it each time you make or receive a call.
If it’s good enough for Toyota, it’s good enough for me.
One of my clients is in that long, dark hallway that seems to lengthen and dim as a huge deadline draws near. She has been relentlessly working toward her vision. Opening day is soon. Her gremlins have formed choruses and are serenading her hourly.
“She” is actually a collage of several of my clients who are about to manifest big time, but are on the precipice of belief today. Is it really possible to have this dream? The answer is YES. It just doesn’t feel that way.
One of the tools I give the amazing women I work with is called metavision–taking a helicopter view of what their lives look like rather than the magnifying lens perspective.
All of my clients excel at the microscopic details of getting the job done. They’re exceptional at their crafts, remarkable in their abilities to attract and utilize the skills of others to assist them, and uncommon at accepting responsibility and responding to the needs and wants of others. They’re visionaries when it comes to how their talents can make this world a better place.
Where I need to guide each of these wonderful women is in pulling back from the day-to-day operations and having them look at the big picture. What does your life look like from 5000 feet up? Who’s in the picture with you? Do you like what you’re doing? Are you having fun? What’s the scenery surrounding you? Is this where you want to be?
Often, they are so caught up in the dailiness of production that how they’re living their lives is overlooked. When, on our call, we shoot up and look at what’s happening below, there’s an energy shift, a recognition that this is what they’re meant to be doing. It’s not easy, but it could not be any other way.
All of my clients love what they do. (It’s a prerequisite of working with me.) Where they need my help is believing that the miracle is coming, especially in today’s uncertain economic climate where everything has a longer lead time than in the past. Whether and when it will arrive is not guaranteed, but the daily journey is where we can take responsibility. Your attitude and outlook inform your mental and physical health and your fortune.
The adage tells us it is always darkest before the dawn. Will you stay the course of the long dark night of the soul?