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In preparing for my talk, Create Your Own Future, tomorrow to the Arts & Culture Collaborative at the Timexpo Museum in Waterbury, I’ve been sorting through some very old files. I came across a set of note cards that I had written in 1990, by hand, in ink. The one above outlined six goals to be achieved over the next few years.
I didn’t really believe at the time they would be possible. They were only dreams. But, my favorite definition of a goal is “a wish with a deadline.” And the number one tool for accomplishing goals is to put them in writing.
I did accomplish all of them. Looking back, I wonder what I thought was so hard. Of course, looking forward to what I’d still like to achieve, I can bring up the same feeling of anxiety and delight. Writing down something you’d like to have in your life, and having no way of conceiving how it might come into reality, is what goal setting is all about.
I look forward to sharing what I know with my audience tomorrow.
BTW, the last goal was to contribute increasing sums to my alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, which I have.
What do difficult clients and getting root canal have to do with each other?
Well, actually, as I re-read that question, it makes sense to compare the two. They can both be extremely painful, and you probably wouldn’t look forward to either.
But that wasn’t the original connection I was going for. As I was leaving my root canalist’s office last week I glimpsed this jar on his counter. Of course, it made me laugh out loud because as you may remember from a previous blog entry, the dentist’s chair is my least favorite place to be. His decorative urn made me pause to consider what constituted a ‘problem patient’ and if I would be so designated.
As a patient, I never thought of myself as a client, but of course, it’s just another designation for one who pays for your services. I never considered my behavior from the dentist’s point of view, which is how all trying clients must think–not from the perspective of whom they’re impacting, right?
Difficult Clients is the topic of discussion at my upcoming Remarkable Women’s Network session on June 28. I will invite attendees to share their challenges with me as I coach them through scenarios they are facing. Should be a fun night to participate in and also to observe.
I inquired from my gentle and capable dentist, Dr. Honig, if I were a candidate for the jar. “Not you,” he generously replied. He then took a pad of small Post-It notes, held it up and said, “HIPAA prevents me from writing down real names, so I just put their initials on these pieces of paper and put them in the jar.” Evidently lateness and lack of payment are far worse offenses than fear and trepidation.
He’s very patient with me. I spend the first 10-15 minutes of our time together numbing out, then getting my iPod cued up for listening to music while he drills, followed by clutching the arms of the dental chair till my knuckles turn white. The first song to come on that morning was from my Jersey Boys album and it was “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” How ironic.
I received this testimonial from a client I worked with a few years ago. I was so happy that she shared it with me that I asked her permission to share it (anonymously) with you. I hope you feel as inspired and motivated as I did reading it.
Short story: I’m speaking in two weeks at the XXX* conference, sponsored by Xxxxx* Women. I reached out to the president to ask if there was a room rate at the Crowne Plaze where the conference will take place (in Any City*, ST*) . She responded with the name of her contact and the room rate. After writing the contact I thought; (channeling your lessons) ‘Wait a minute, I’m traveling, speaking (and not being paid) shouldn’t I ask my host to pick up the tab for my room?’ So I took a deep breath, wrote her and asked, and lo and behold the answer was YES. Had I not asked, I’d be paying for my own room and not feeling very good about it.
*Names changed to protect the innocent.
I congratulated my client for her courage and action. I hope you are inspired to ask for something you need today.
Like many of you, I’ve been going through major transitions in the last couple of years. The economy has definitely impacted my business, and my personal life has also changed substantially. My long-term marriage came to an end, and a new relationship is beginning to blossom. I changed residences, took on new responsibilities and let go of others.
I’m finding that it’s time for me to re-evaluate my own priorities by using a coaching tool I offer every new client. It’s called the Wheel of Life, and it allows me to see a snapshot of what’s working and what isn’t working in the areas of career, money, physical environment, significant other/romance, personal development, family and friends, fun and recreation and health.
The idea of the wheel is to rank each of these categories, notice where the gaps are between where you are and where you’d like to be, and how evenly distributed these areas of your life are. How smooth is the ride if your career is at a 6, but your health is at a 3?
In looking at my own, I realize that I’m now choosing to focus more on fun and recreation and romance than any of the other pie pieces. As many of you have recently reflected back to me, I’ve been operating at a high level of self-sufficiency and can take my foot off the gas for awhile and still have plenty of forward momentum. That’s what I’m choosing consciously to do.
I have decided to take the month of July off from marketing, webinars, blogging and networking. I’m going to be quiet, relax, hike, spend time in nature and swing in a hammock during this time. I’m going to vacation with my kids for several days.
I’ll be attending the Kushi Macrobiotic Conference again (my 5th time) and will use the rest of the month to relax, swim, read and pore through old journals for inspiration and instruction. I’m going to watch grass grow and spend time doing nothing.
I often recommend this to my own clients. Now the coach is taking her own prescription and trusting that the Universe wants exactly that from me–to do nothing and allow it to manifest whatever is next. There’s a heap of trust involved in letting go to this extent, but I’m crystal clear that it’s what I need to do.
I’m looking forward to a busy June and an August that is full of promises for the fall. I know I’ll return to my office renewed and reinvigorated. You can look forward to a full report (after a month of silence) when I get back.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
Between hearing Rick Smilow, president and principal owner of NYC’s Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), on Thursday night, then hosting a group of friends on Friday night over a potluck supper, the prevailing wisdom I heard was surprising when it came to employees.
Smilow was the second featured business owner in the Insights from Entrepreneurs series being put on by the Westport Library. NPR journalist Alison Freeland conducted another engaging interview, particularly because she had thrown away all the questions Rick had sent her to be asked.
The two covered what it takes to be an entrepreneur (by Smilow’s definition)– ability to change gears at least 10x per day, drive, energy, adrenaline, plus a good idea; his background at Nabisco and his choice of product category–culinary education; the collection of businesses he didn’t buy–a nail polish company, a hosiery company, a modeling school franchise; and the series of coincidences that led to his taking on ICE.
What I found most intriguing during the interview was the discussion around hiring and firing and the culture one creates in a company. He took ICE from 15 employees to 175. Mistakes were made along the way that led him to develop greater discernment around hiring. More than once this successful entrepreneur alluded to some roll-the-eyes experiences he’d had prior to finding his current CFO. “Don’t be so trusting,” he warned. Sometimes the people who appear to be the most honest turn out not to be. Smilow mentioned having a gut feeling early on and not trusting it because the guy seemed so good.
That’s where the discussion picked up at dinner on Friday night. I was talking about this topic with the men and women at the table, one of whom was recently hired at a company with a strong culture. He, too, was familiar with the proviso to beware the ideal employee.
Not being from a corporate environment I wanted to know more.
It seems that often a person performing at the highest level, and who appears to be the most loyal, trustworthy and reputable person, may be covering up less than ethical behavior. We know that life is complicated, so something that seems too good to be true often is. Someone covering up the minor inconveniences and mishaps of everyday life may have a competing agenda.
I’d love to hear your experience around this. It reminds me of the saying “the lady doth protest too much.” Who might need to be always demonstrating their loyalty, talent and commitment without the dailiness and humanness of being imperfect? Any gut reaction?
MORE Magazine (April 2012) featured an inspiring article about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit with Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s best-known opposition leader and a Nobel peace laureate. To read about the meeting of these two powerful women was exhilarating and informative.
What happened behind the scenes the night before contained the tidbit I wanted to pass on. How often must we reign in our own personal habits and desires for the greater good?
She ordered tea, much to the disappointment of the the traveling-press regulars, who prefer it when Clinton knocks back a few drinks with them., as she is known to do.
Sorry, guys, I can’t. I’d love to, but I can’t,” she says when wine is offered. She’s already losing her voice and needs some tea with honey. It’s a big day tomorrow. She has a president to size up, a heroine rebel to embrace, a country to help save. And a few million women to fight for. She’ll pass on the Chardonnay.
It would ruin any mystery surrounding the birthday gift I’m giving her tonight. But my experience at Lululemon yesterday bears sharing with my audience of business owners and other interested consumers.
I selected a cool, reversible jacket as my gift to Barbara, brought it to the checkout counter and asked that it be wrapped as a gift. “We don’t have gift boxes. We’re a sustainable store,” I was told with just the slightest edge of superiority.
“Could you put a little tissue around it?” I asked, hoping for a touch of festivity in the unwrapping experience.
“No, we don’t believe in adding waste to the environment,” the salesgirl said. Actually, she didn’t say that exactly, but that was my interpretation of her repeating the ‘sustainable’ mantra in slightly different language.
Another jolt I got at that counter was the guestbook sign-in. Hoping to get the inside scoop on what towns other shoppers were visiting from, I was surprised to see that the pages consisted solely of names and email addresses. Clearly, paper, envelopes and stamps were not going to be used by this company.
I admire and support the philosophy and commitment of Lululemon, but have to confess to suffering a bit of culture shock, this being my first time interfacing with the reality of it.
I do plan to tie a (recyclable) ribbon around the cool, environmentally correct bag they did give me for transporting said gift to its recipient. I hope Barbara likes it. They did print out an extra gift receipt, just in case.
One of the reasons I just joined Ladies Who Launch was to be sure to claim my space at Kristin van Ogtrop’s talk last week in Greenwich. I knew it would be a sell-out and that members would receive priority. I became a platinum member and slid onto the list of attendees.
She was fabulous!
To get a sense of Kristin’s outlook and humor I recommend buying her book (seen here), but to give you a small appetizer, here are two of my favorite points she made during her talk that night:
#3 – If you don’t have a thick skin, learn to heal quickly.
She showed an actual email she’d received (the person’s email name and address included!) that was insulting and rude as an example of what she occasionally contends with. That really got my attention as I have recently been on the receiving end of others’ ire. When you’re a public figure of any dimension, you do become a target. I liked her directive to deal with the hurt and move on rapidly. I’ve been applying that wisdom to good advantage.
I remember a Newsday poll from many years ago that named Howard Stern as the best-loved radio personality. He was simultaneously named the most-hated radio personality. Fame (or any public notice) will often be a double-edged sword.
My other favorite point Kristin made was:
#4 – Don’t exceed your own personal speed limit.
That’s easily understood and could be a screen saver on your computer monitor. How often do you take on more than you can accomplish in a day? That little word “no” (which Kristin recommended liberal use of) will help keep your travel lane flowing smoothly.
In addition to hearing Kristin speak, I’m delighted to be a new member of Ladies Who Launch which is being so well run by Kathy McShane who is devoted to helping women business owners succeed. I share that passion with Kathy and am excited about joining forces with her to serve our community and beyond.
My primary reason for visiting Savannah earlier this week was to visit my good friend Meredith Gray in her new digs. She moved from Connecticut last fall after one too many winters in the Northeast.
Coincidentally, I’d recently heard from another dear friend in GA, my college professor Jim Cavanaugh, who has written a book on acting and invited me to design its cover. I asked Jim about the distance from Savannah to his home on St. Simons Island. Perhaps I could hand-deliver the artwork since I was flying south anyway. Graciously, Meredith willingly chauffeured me to a brunch date with Jim which provided the opportunity to present him his cover. He loved it!
What a treat to be in Jim’s company again after more than 20 years since we’d last seen each other at a reunion. I had had a double major at Mount Holyoke–Studio Art and Theatre. I was a backstage person designing sets, logos and props for many productions. Jim has saved many pieces of the work I did back then including the logo for The Caucasian Chalk Circle (hanging above my head) and the bunraku puppet (next to it) which I had made representing the child in that production during my senior year.
There was something extraordinary about seeing artwork I had created 40 years ago. It surprised me that I liked it. And I was touched that Jim had it so prominently displayed throughout his home. What a gift it is to maintain relationships over the decades and to have the opportunity to revisit them. It’s important to me to keep up with my friendships and to make time for seeing the people I love.
Do you feel that way too?
I spent the early part of this week visiting my good friend Meredith Gray at her new bungalow in Savannah. We invited a fellow Savannah-ite to join us for breakfast Tuesday morning at the Sentient Bean.
Carlette Cormier and I had met in 2003–I as a speaker, Carlette as an award-winning designer. She recently took my webinar, so our friendship was re-kindled and visiting her in GA was a must. Her focus now is in developing her Savannah Toile business, which she’s doing with great success.
Carlette is a born story-teller. She was describing a big job she’d installed a few years ago at an elegant restaurant in town called Ele. As a designer, she was tasked with creating upholstered walls for one of the dining rooms. I asked her how she had received that opportunity. Carlette’s next door neighbor is a masseuse and the owner of Ele regularly received massages from her. Carlette’s neighbor happily made the referral. As Carlette so succinctly put it:
“You never know where your next referral is coming from.”