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For as long as I can remember I have had set goals: to go to college, to graduate, to get a job, to get married, to have and raise children, to write a book, to become a coach, to speak publicly, to succeed in my own business, to work on my relationship(s), to achieve peace and serenity, blah, blah, blah.
I did all that.
I’m at a point now that feels like a mid-life crisis, but it’s a tad late. I feel goal-less.
The career stuff has lost its appeal. I go onto LinkedIn to look at discussion threads and go right back out. I’ve heard it all before. It feels competitive and repetitive.
Let me be clear that I adore my clients, my groups and the community I’ve created. I look forward to those calls and meetings immensely. It’s the marketing for new opportunities and filling the pipeline that has lost its appeal for me.
For the first time ever, I am waiting for a goal to define me.
While I know that I am in a lull and looking for some form of manifestation to come knocking at my door, I constantly remind anyone who works with me, or for that matter knows me and listens to my opinions (!), that in order to get what you want, you have to be very specific and offer it up in excruciating detail.
So here’s my want ad (versus my goal) to the Universe in the hopes that putting it out there in this form will be useful:
My vision is to coach men (new, I know) and women to become their best and highest selves; to integrate their insides with their outsides, and to be joyful and present in the process.The companies that hire me (I am free lance, not employed) recognize the importance and value of coaching, and that the act of sharing the truth in a safe, confidential and receptive place will add to their bottom line measured by employee productivity, satisfaction and retention.
I visit three different places of business three days a week (Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays are for MY private groups and communities) in New York City where I am the resident coach. These are small (up to 100 employees), conscious (this description is touching their hearts and souls), green (environmentally aware) companies who care as much about their employees as they do their products and services.
My role is to share my experience, strength and hope with those who work there and who feel the need:
- to be visible
- to hear themselves speak about what’s real
- to share a current struggle
They appreciate that my path as business owner, wife, mother, divorcee, woman in recovery and world traveler equips me to hold space for any and all issues that may arise. The outcome of these coaching relationships is more productive, happy and courageous employees.
The salary for this position is commensurate with the value I bring to each company and is abundant, prosperous and satisfying to all parties.
I was such a novice when I first walked into the doors of the Entrepreneurial Woman’s Network (EWN) 20 years ago. I didn’t even knew what the word networking meant back then. A colleague had mentioned that there were other women business owners in the Fairfield County area, and would I care to join her for one of their meetings.
In my youthful arrogance, having been in my own business for about 10 years at that time, I thought, “Sure, maybe I can teach them a thing or two.”
It’s only when we enter new arenas that we get to see what we really know. For one, I had no idea how to go up to a group of women and introduce myself. I was incredibly shy, but fortunately had a business name that attracted attention. “What exactly is An Egg by Jane?” I got asked over and over.
I learned that each time I replied and took note of the listener’s expression, my description (i.e. 30-second commercial which I’d also never heard called that) changed and improved. I got to define what I did and for whom.
The thing I most valued about EWN then and now is meeting women who could help me in business. From our membership I created my own Mastermind Group that is still going strong today, found graphic designers, computer instructors, marketing consultants and communications experts who have continuously helped me grow my business. I’ve also attracted clients from our midst, many of whom have become lifelong friends.
It’s always an honor to be asked to speak at any organization, but it’s particularly rewarding to be invited by the network that fostered my growth. Some of my earliest public speaking opportunities came through EWN when I spoke on panels and at morning roundtables. To have the honored spot for an evening event is truly a cherished dream.
I hope to see a lot of familiar faces on Tuesday night and would love it if you would join me then. I’ll be sharing the lessons I’ve learned in my 30+ years in business, plus answering questions from the group that they’re dealing with on a daily basis in today’s marketplace.
One lesson I included in the first edition of my book Soul Proprietor was how important image is. I remember looking up EWN in the phone book (that’s how long ago that was) and seeing an address on the Post Road. “Wow!” I thought. “Real estate on the main drag of Westport, CT. This must be a sizable organization.”
Turned out the address was a Mailboxes, USA postal box (before these were ubiquitous), but it got me to the next step of the relationship, and that’s what creating a big appearance can do for you. Once we met, a fancy address was less important that the quality of its membership, which I’ve enjoyed for all these years.
What a relief to read this wonderful volume and be affirmed for behaviors that rarely get affirmed. I’m talking about the new book sensation called Quiet whose subtitle is: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
If you’ve met me within the last 10 or more years, you may not believe this, but I was extraordinarily shy as a child and young adult. I literally hid behind my mother’s apron/skirt and only occasionally peeked out to see and be seen. It was safe in those folds back then, and I felt protected and secure.
Of course, that doesn’t really prepare you for the next stages of life, like school and work. I remember raising and lowering my hand to volunteer for show-and-tell in first grade. I raised it when the teacher was looking in the other direction, then lowered it when she turned back around to my side of the room. I desperately wanted to share about my new shoes or goldfish, but was equally terrified of opening my mouth. It was a dilemma.
I distinctly remember the first time I offered a thought of my own in an art class at Mount Holyoke College. I remember the room I was in, where I was sitting and even the content of my thoughts. Nothing dramatic to add to the discussion at hand, but enough of a moment in time that it was memorable – the day I first asked to be called on.
How many of you fall into this category? When they say painfully shy, there’s a reason for that well-chosen adverb. It hurts.
Therapy, 12-step recovery and joining Toastmasters were the tools and programs I used over the years to get past this crippling behavior. I’m now often the first one to raise my hand, will speak up when the spirit moves me and am no longer shy about adding my thougths to a discussion.
Even with these learned behaviors, I am an introvert.
Today, because of reading this book, I feel celebrated by the recognition and support that pours forth from Quiet. I heard about Susan Cain when someone suggested I watch her powerful TED talk, which I promptly did and loved.
Why I’m writing about her today is that I launched my Soul Proprietor Coaching Program on Friday and feel like celebrating and shouting from the rooftops, “I did it–in my own quiet way.”
I’m not looking for a million dollar business or thousands of clients. What makes me really happy is serving my community well and earning enough money to have the lifestyle I desire. Simply defining that is half the battle.
Cain’s words are reinforcing my own message to trust my gut, spend time alone developing my program and not constantly be comparing myself to my highly visible and voluminously marketed competition.
Here’s to us introverts! Shhhhhhhhh…
I received an email message from Jim Cavanaugh, my beloved theatre professor from Mount Holyoke College, who has continued to follow my career since the day I graduated. He was acknowledging my admission/declaration that I needed to rehearse my talk for this Friday’s Soul Proprietor Community Coaching Program.
Rehearse doesn’t mean Re-Hearing, as I thought for years, but Re-harrowing, chopping up the material as a harrow slices thru hard soil, making it more receptive to growth.
Need I say more? I’m still learning, re-harrowing, after all these years. And have the good fortune to have had such mindful, caring instructors along the way.
Reading in the Times today about the designer of Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown made me want to pose this question to my entrepreneurial colleagues and clients:
But dressing a first lady for the inauguration is a momentous occasion, and many designers have not been able to handle its weight. For every de la Renta, there has been a Michael Faircloth (Laura Bush’s first), and for every Scaasi a Sarah Phillips (Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first).
Not even Mrs. Obama’s support guarantees success, as illustrated by Maria Pinto of Chicago, a hometown favorite who went out of business in 2010 despite the first lady’s patronage.
Though Mr. Wu was just 26 when he was selected the first time, he already had an established relationship with retailers, a production infrastructure and the good sense to get himself on all of the morning talk shows the next day (as he did again Tuesday, now a seasoned pro at age 30).
When I give a talk on creating a million dollar presence, I administer a quick media readiness quiz. It’s an opportunity to check in with my audience to see if, in fact, they are prepared to handle the onslaught of attention and sales they’ve been dreaming about. Are their ducks in a row?
Of course, you want to do everything you can to get the attention of the press. Designing the inaugural ball gown is a hands down winning formula, but for the rest of us, there are tried and true elements: having great marketing materials including a logo and web presence, networking, speaking and creating a platform would be top among them.
Of equal importance is having the goods to deliver once the press opportunities and resulting demands begin to flow your way.
How successful do you really want to be, and are you positioning yourself now for that recognition and traffic?
I’ve been down many rabbit holes in my business, but yesterday, before meeting someone at the NY Public Library, I spotted this fellow sitting near the steps of the building and thought, “Wow! That’s something I’ve never tried. That takes guts.”
Or something else. You fill in the blank.
Here was this man, an author, who’d shlepped his own table, chair and signage to sit front and center in the Big Apple with his wares. I was intrigued enough to have a conversation and learn more about him, where he came from and how this promotion was working. I asked if I might take his photo and blog about him. He happily agreed.
I was going to link this to his site, but after visiting it, I didn’t find it professional enough to recommend. I was hoping that he’d be a hidden treasure that I might help promote. But, alas, he still has much to learn. The website was amateurish, confusing and did not make me want to buy his book.
I admired his courage: to sit there with his product and avail himself of one of the most trafficked areas in the world. This is not something everyone would or should try. I give him credit for going to any lengths. Whether or not he sells many books is less important than the feedback he gets from the masses walking by. There’s always information to be gleaned when you put yourself out there. New Yorkers are known for their candor. I hope he got helpful ideas in the process.
I’m grateful to my friend and goal buddy, Sandy Weiner, for mentioning during our call today that you can now search the web using an image. Because of her telling me this, I chose to not feature this man’s face, just in case he’s surfing the web for his likeness and anything being written about him.
You never know…