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I want to offer a story and a solution.
I was sitting at my desk yesterday before leaving for a hectic afternoon of coaching and meetings. I call the MTA to find out how to get the 30-day deal on my EasyPay card which can’t be inserted into the machines. Of course they’re experiencing high call volume, so while I’m on hold, I begin creating a personalized holiday card that includes a photo. Since the image is taking awhile to upload, and I’m still waiting for a human voice to pick up my call about my MetroCard, I start going through my inbox of 73 messages, many of which require a focused response.
Are you exhausted just reading this tale of busy-ness? I’m sure you can top it with your own. But, it’s not a competition, and surely no one wins.
A client told me on our recent call that she’d read an article about 10 ways to make your life easier around the holidays. One tip was to turn off Facebook and twitter on your phone.
I had an alternate solution. Don’t read articles about saving time.
In fact, make a decision to stay focused on one thing at a time and CHOOSE what that one thing is. I came up with this tip after feeling so discombobulated by my own earlier behavior.
Julie Morgenstern, the queen of organization, says that opening emails early in the morning opens up a different drawer in your brain. Yesterday it felt like there were three drawers open with wrinkly clothes hanging out, i.e. a mess. Just for today, turn everything off except the one task you’re working on. Complete it, and move onto the next one.
Blog complete. Check.
Two women drive 30 minutes to visit a store that had recently been recommended. It’s a gorgeous, sunny New England Tuesday afternoon.
It’s almost noon, they park, walk to the shop and see this sign on the door. For those of you who may not have the opportunity to enlarge this image, it says:
12 – 5pm Wed – Sat
10 – 5 Sun
Also by chance
and by appointment
…followed by the shop’s phone number.
Now, I was visiting my friend who lives 30 minutes from Chester where the store is located. But I was there between speaking engagements and had traveled from NYC. I knew the chances of my getting there again anytime soon were slim and none.
I pulled out my iPhone and dialed. My friend looked at me in disbelief. “I would never have called,” she told me.
The owner of C & G immediately answered her phone and said she’d be right down.
I had no idea she lived above the store. She was fabulously well-dressed, coiffed and even had on a sassy hat. She asked if we’d like to shop right now, or would we prefer to dine in town and meet her back there in 90 minutes when she’d have had a chance to really prepare for us. We opted for the latter.
After a very delicious, relaxing lunch, we walked back to C&G, shopped till we dropped and each found things we could not live without. Some other women entered as well, which made us feel better about having the shop specially opened. It clearly made it more profitable for the proprietress as well.
What I love about observing other soul proprietors is the variety of ways in which they choose to operate and adapt as they go along. I’m curious to hear what you would have done in the same situation. Plus, I highly recommend the sophisticated aesthetic of this new find.
It didn’t take Lisa Corrado long to decide that being in business for 10 years was worthy of celebration. Her Mastermind Group urged her to nail down a date and get the invitation out to her happy clients and supporters.
Selfishly, we all wanted to party with Lisa. And we did. Lisa threw a festive, energetic and well-attended soiree. We ate, drank and met the other stimulating, successful, fun attendees all there to support and celebrate our colleague and friend.
Katie Settel of Katie Settel Photography captured the evening with her always-beautiful photographs and Louise Albin of Cafe Louise catered the party. There wasn’t even one crumb of food left afterwards. One of our members said she thought she may have seen ‘lick’ marks on the serving platters!
New businesses notoriously fail within the first five years. Making it beyond that mark as an entrepreneur is remarkable. And doubling that significant milestone is not only extraordinary–especially when it encompassed 2008 and beyond, it’s also deeply satisfying. The smile on Lisa’s face never left that night.
You can read more about Lisa’s offerings on her site, but they won’t tell you what makes her so successful. Words can’t capture the spirit, humor and passion that Lisa exudes when she talks about nutrition.
To give you an example, she handed us each an apple–a green one, just like her logo–the first day of our program a year ago.
She traveled to Italy for two weeks (an assigned goal) to see if she’d like to incorporate international travel into her practice.
Not only is she fearless, this woman is unstoppable, and it’s contagious if you are around her for even five minutes.
You can see her friends and supporters clear affection and happiness in this group shot the beautiful night of her party. This was on her back patio, just outside her office door. Talk about a lifestyle entrepreneur! Lisa’s hard-earned anniversary celebration was a testament to the rewards of working hard, keeping up with her community and contributing her knowledge and expertise to so many.
Have you got an occasion to celebrate? My advice is to grab the opportunity, invite your friends and party, party, party!
My friend Linda called it her “Onions and Orchids” file. Whenever she got a less than positive communication–an Onion–she’d whip out her Orchids file filled with eloquently positive messages about her worth and read one or two to get herself back on track.
What do you do with the positive things clients (colleagues and friends, too) say about you? Toss them aside with an, “Oh, that’s nice.” Or keep them in an accessible location for easy reference? Right answer!
One of my Outlook folders is labeled ‘testimonials’ for the express purpose of reminding myself of my value (like when I got a hurtful comment last week from someone who was clearly in a bad mood and needed an innocent bystander to vent at). It does rock my boat, until I choose the action of referencing my value as expressed by a cherished client, i.e. reading an Orchid.
I’d just blogged about my upcoming virtual Mastermind Group (starts this Thursday at 6) and received the most generous comments from the women in my current Mastermind Intensive. The nature of a group like this is deep intimacy, clarity, support and affection for each other. When you’re a solopreneur, working from home, taking risks daily and working through the daily highs and lows of life, it’s an amazing gift, resource and Orchid to have a team always there in your back pocket to remind you of your talent, your vision and your dedication when it can be so easy to forget all that. I read through those comments twice to counter-balance the critical email I’d just received. Better that than engaging with a crackpot.
If you’re looking for ways to keep your momentum in this still struggling economy, join me starting this Thursday evening from wherever you are. My google+ hangout is devoted to you and seven other women business owners who are equally committed to keeping you joyful and connected while achieving your business dreams.
My dear friend Marisabina Russo, aka Cookie, invited me to her home in Westchester today so that I could see the new studio she recently had built on her property.
Cookie and I were art majors at Mount Holyoke College with adjacent easels in painting class. From the moment she graduated, Cookie has pursued a career using her talents of writing and illustration. Her career as an author/illustrator of children’s books has been a testimony to creativity, hard work, persistence and success.
Seeing her in her new building was heart-warming beyond measure. I was witness to her careful selection of the perfect track lighting with bulbs that won’t alter the color of her work, magnificent skylights, arched windows and a solid barn-red door with 4 panes of glass that match the windows surrounding it.
Here she is in front of a complete book layout pinned to a homasote wall so that she can visualize the entire book at one time–unheard of when she was laying out pages on her old studio floor or on the bed in her bedroom.
Although I have no intention of picking up my old tools to create artwork, I was tremendously inspired by Cookie’s dedication, longevity in her field and renewed energy for her art.
No doubt you’ve heard the saying that when you point the finger at someone else, there are three others pointing back at you. May I tell you how much I hated that adage?
I far preferred to place the blame on anyone but moi. Me, wrong? Can’t be!
I was fueled by self-righteousness and perfectionism. It’s a great smokescreen for insecurity and feeling ‘less than.’ If I could place the blame squarely on anyone else, I could remain on my perch as the hero or the victim, but never the architect of misjudgment or wrongdoing.
Last Friday I was unable to log onto the dashboard I use for administering my monthly call to my Soul Proprietor Community. I entered the usual URL for the conference line, but kept getting an error message. I remembered that my VA had requested my new credit card number for the May billing cycle. But it didn’t even occur to me to stir up anger at her, because even if she hadn’t gotten to that task yet, it wouldn’t have remedied the situation at hand in that moment.
I couldn’t start the recording as I normally would have, so thought quickly and explained to the group that I would offer the session a second time and record it then. I proceeded to conduct the rest of the call without benefit of the muting option, but it went smoothly nonetheless.
Two very cool things happened. One–the recorder went on automatically unbeknownst to me so the call did get recorded (perfectly, btw), and I did not need to duplicate the effort. The second was this message from a participant:
I learned a wonderful lesson today on our conference call. There were some technical mishaps with recording and sound feedback. If I had been in Jane ‘s shoes I would have gone nuts. However, it was so refreshing and eye opening to see how Jane handled the situation. As a participant I found that her attitude did not cause stress to me (the client/guest) and in fact made me find humor and humanness.
I’m about to get on the phone with my assistant,(who had paid the monthly fee for me) and navigate how to NOT have this happen in the future. I’m very grateful that I didn’t blame her for something she didn’t do to relieve my anxiety in the moment. Relationship and sanity saved.
I’m often the guinea pig of my own coaching. I had a task I’d been putting off and putting off for at least 10 days–creating a warm letter to send to clients, friends and colleagues about the upcoming holistic cruise I’m participating in.
I knew I had the necessary information (dates, early bird discount and itinerary) somewhere on my desktop, but when my desk is messy or I have too many windows open on my computer, I can feel overwhelmed.
First, I would have to locate those details, and second create an opening paragraph describing my excitement. Well, that excitement was buried under the mess as well, the same as it often is for the women I work with.
When I’m coaching a client who is procrastinating, in addition to getting beyond the stuckness, I am always curious to hear more about the to-do that’s paralyzing her. Articulating the situation helps break through the first level of resistance. I can hear the pressure being released and relieved. Then I come in with the zinger.
“Exactly how long will it take to do this?”
That’s the question I asked myself earlier this week. How long will it take to actually compose the letter? It felt like the answer would be “Two years!” but my higher self knew the truth–under an hour.
And so I applied this technique, shared it with my goal buddy, and accomplished it within the hour. Not only that, I personalized 15 versions of it, hand wrote a special message to each recipient, and put all 15 letters in the mail.
I’ll send out another 85 by next week. The ice has been broken. It’s downhill from here. And you know what? Now I am really excited about this amazing opportunity.
I invited Lilli, an organizational expert, to address the women of my Mastermind Intensive yesterday. She focused her talk on Evernote, an online application which 50 million people, other than me, have found useful. Count me in now–50,000,001–since her demo and explanation made me a convert.
Lilli had tons of useful ways to implement Evernote, but my favorite line was her over-arching theme: “Your mind is not a storage facility.” She compared Evernote to how we use a calendar. When someone asks you for a meeting on May 29, chances are you need to consult a calendar to check your availability. No one expects you to retain that kind of information for instant recall.
The way she explained Evernote is that IT becomes your brain in multiple other ways. “Get it out of your brain!” is her mantra.
Another tool she introduced to our group is a portable scanner. “If you’re still using a flat-bed scanner, you’re driving a 1984 Buick.” Shhhhhh. I am. That’ll be next on the agenda once I get flowing with my life on Evernote.
For years, I’ve employed my own gross sort method of organization. After yesterday’s demo, I can avoid that cumbersome technique for something more agile and portable.
Thank you, Lilli!
Often I get passionate about an idea, then make it bigger and bigger so that evenutally it becomes impossible to make any progress. Then I use “failure” as an excuse not to try anything like that ever again. Telling my husband about it, I explained it like this: when building a fire, it’s smart to get rid of the old ashes, light some crumpled-up newspaper, then put some twigs on. After the twigs have caught, put on some small logs. When the small logs are burning nice and hot, then larger logs can be added. All too often, I plunk a large log onto the newspaper shortly after it’s caught fire. The flame is snuffed out and I say, “see, it didn’t work” and then sit in the cold, pouting. So in keeping with my analogy, I’m going to sit and watch my twigs burn for a while.
Our next session is on Friday at noon (EDT).
I started my Soul Proprietor Coaching Program on February 1, have held two sessions with the entire community and two group coaching sessions so far.
There’s buzz going on in our private Facebook area and comments being posted as our members begin to take on the challenges I’ve offered.
My sense is that it’s well-received, but only when I read the feedback do I gain a clearer picture of my impact. Are you like that?
In our virtual world, what’s the best kind of response for you? Until I hear from my participants, I feel a bit on edge as to whether or not my message is being transmitted.
Today I posted the challenges I put out to individual members, like writing a letter to existing clients announcing a price increase, networking proactively (i.e. soliciting time with the people you really want to meet), editing a LinkedIn profile, and immediately began hearing from my members. I also got excited to read all the exciting things these soul proprietors are taking on. I feel inspired as well.