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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.
Doreen Birdsell, my good friend and mentor, was on a mission. She wanted to enter the Toastmasters International Speech Contest and needed to have three more speeches under her belt in order to qualify.
Doreen had recently (within the last six months) joined a local Toastmasters club in Connecticut and is currently a snowbird in Sarasota, FL. Most clubs meet only once every two weeks. Did I mention that she had only two weeks to deliver these three talks?
That did not stop Doreen. Toastmasters is an international organization. She discovered that there are six clubs in Sarasota, so she emailed every one of them to get on their rosters. Normally, only members of a particular club get to deliver speeches at club meetings. Doreen requested that they line her up as a guest speaker.
The organization rallied behind her efforts, and one club president even reached out to other clubs a little further afield that Doreen didn’t even know existed. One of the clubs she solicited called her to say they had had a full roster, but someone had dropped out, and would Doreen still be available to speak. She got all her slots arranged and then had to prepare the three talks. No small feat.
Each Toastmasters manual speech (when you join the organization, you receive an educational manual with instructions for delivering everything from an icebreaker–self-introductory talk–to a motivational speech) requires dedicated preparation. Besides having a beginning, middle and end, each talk needs to have a call to action for the listeners. And then there’s rehearsal time. This did not stop Doreen.
From the very first time I met Doreen over 15 years ago, I was mesmerized by her ability to capture a thought and hold her audience’s attention, whether it was just me or a group of listeners at a meeting, and hold that space with her timeless, inspirational message.
In those two weeks, Doreen delivered her three speeches, won ribbons for each of them and went on to compete for a place in the International Speech Contest. She came in second this year, but will surely go on to not only earn her slot next year, but show up bigger and better. I predict (you read it here first!) that she will be a Toastmasters International Champion one day.
If you’d like to hear an example of Doreen’s message and style, click here.
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 committed to my goal buddy that I would do a run-through of my 2/1 coaching lesson for my upcoming Soul Proprietor Community by tomorrow morning at 9am when we check in with each other.
Since making that commitment yesterday, I have filed my tax returns, ordered theatre tickets, arranged a lunch date for my son’s birthday, confirmed breakfast plans with my daughter and granddaughter, blogged about my process, responded to emails and spent a few minutes on Facebook.
In actual preparation for that goal, I did take my notes down off the wall and arranged them onto sheets of paper in the order that I want to refer to them. That required a nap.
I know that I will have rehearsed once before our early call tomorrow, but I won’t pretend that it’s my go-to activity, even though it is the most important work I’m developing. I need a forcing mechanism–that call with my goal partner–to give me an artificial deadline. This way I’ll be 100% ready when I go live in two weeks.
I’m not worried about it. Just observing my behavior. One of the points I intend to make during that call is what I’ve heard described as the highest form of spiritual development (i.e. what I strive for every day): non-judgmental awareness.
“Ah, look at that, Jane. You’re putting other things in front of this activity that will give you great peace of mind once you’ve worked on it.”
I’m heading off to a meeting now knowing full well that when I get back, I will do my first run-through, with my recording device on, so I can experience having talked this through. It will most definitely get easier after that, and I will continue to commit to rehearsing again and again.
What’s different about my procrastination process at this point in my career is that I can be a casual observer to it and not a harsh critic of it. I wish you that peace of mind in your own procrastination behaviors.
When you put an intention out into the Universe, look out!
This year, starting February 1, I intend to lead a community of women entrepreneurs in a movement of my own creation.
I set this intention last month. At a Christmas Eve party shortly after I’d made this decision, I sat down next to Arlyn Young, pictured above left, who proceeded to share her excitement about an upcoming Seth Godin event she had a ticket for in the city: The Icarus Deception, Live. Soon after the party, it might even have been Christmas Day (the perfect gift!), she sent me a link to register.
I’m blogging to you fresh from this fabulous program. Because of Seth Godin’s brilliant deconstruction of our post-industrialist society, I am more inspired than ever to take the risk of putting myself in front of you all and proclaiming THIS IS MY ART.
I lead women in my own particular way, based on my unique history of getting to this place in time, and having the passion to share what I know about operating a business doing what you love, as I have, for the past 30 years.
You’ll have to watch Seth’s talk on video (I’ll post a link to it if/when it goes live) and/or read his new book The Icarus Deception to get the whole picture and inspiration I felt. Basically he informed us, with much head-nodding throughout the audience in recogntion, that jobs are something we invented. They didn’t exist 150 years ago when we were an agricultural society. There was zero unemployment then because we ALL worked for ourselves. We’seem to be heading back towards that model as industries that used to thrive are falling by the wayside–the music industry was the example he talked about to illustrate his point–and creative entrepreneurs are taking their art public whether it’s making the best brisket or self-publishing their poems. It’s time to start making it up and putting out your wares.
In his book and talk, the formula for success today and in the future will once again be to create your own calling. It’s inside you, and you know that. Bringing it to life is scary and dangerous. As Gregg Levoy says (I’m not quoting directly, but you’ll get the point) in his book Callings, the greater the passion, the more the Universe flings opposing forces.
Seth gave us a vivid example of 3 Buddhist monks who came across a terrifying pitbull (Arlyn, correct me here if I mis-remembered this). Two of the monks ran away, but the third holy man confronted the animal with an icy stare in return, at which point the ‘bully’ dog put his tail between his legs and retreated. That’s what your gremlins will do when you take an action in spite of the threats, criticisms or judgments.
The Icarus Project begins nationwide tonight. See if you can locate and participate in a meeting near you. By his own example, Seth Godin is not marketing this the old way–taking out ads in magazines and newspapers. He’s counting on the connectedness of his community to spread the word, as I am, because what he’s offering is so exciting, so different and so compelling. Check it out! And pass it on.
Last night’s EWN event was inspiring!
Kate White was our featured speaker, and she lit a fire under the entire room. She gave three take-away pieces of advice for success from her new book. The title of this post echoed what one of the members of my upcoming Mastermind Intensive said when I asked her why she signed up for my group.
“This is my year!” she claimed. That mantra, Go big or go home reflects an attitude of determination, ability and courage.
Kate also reminded us to not worry what others think of us. She told a tale of her early days in publishing when she kept noticing what Jackie was doing and saying and how annoying it was. Jackie didn’t care what Kate thought and meanwhile was gaining traction and momentum in her career while Kate was busy resenting her. Great illustration of how that kind of thinking weighs you down while the other person is merrily pursuing their goals. I loved her self-deprecating humor and hard-won wisdom.
I’d write more, but am up in Rhinebeck, NY, getting ready to attend the Women and Power weekend event at Omega Institute. Please comment if you were there, and what your takeaways were.
“There is no work/life balance the way it’s portrayed,” were the opening words of relationship expert and author Dr. Patty Ann Tublin, the third speaker in the Insights from Entrepreneurs series presented at the Westport Library last night.
I had arrived early to ensure a seat, so was quite surprised that there were only a sprinkling of attendees compared to the standing-room-only crowd when Doug Bernstein, of Melissa and Doug, spoke last spring.
“I did research and found out, it’s all nonsense,” she continued. I heartily agree, but tell that to all the women I meet who are still striving for the Holy Grail of ‘having it all.’ Dr. Tublin’s solution is to reconcile–bring opposing things into harmony.
She spoke primarily about the major considerations for moving toward balance – Money and Time. Time, she said, is the key ingredient to success. It’s the one commodity that ‘cannot be printed by a government agency’ and is doled out equally to us all.
As she explained it, her life philosophy or mantra is, “Figure it out” which has the inherent and positive implication that there always is a solution.
Because of the small crowd size, the Q+A part of the evening was lively and personal and added an extra spark to an already stimulating event.
Many of my clients make public offerings and work hard to fill a room. It gives me pause that as venerable an institution as the Westport Library, with all its resources, drew only a dozen folks to this event. No judgment, just noticing…
Susan and I have been working together over the course of several years. When we first began our coaching relationship, Susan was entirely focused on her jewelry business as a fine goldsmith.
She wanted to establish her brand and carve out time to produce the exquisite pieces she was known for. Managing a household in Westport, CT with two young children and a successful husband, she was faced with a similar issue of many women–when is it MY time?
Susan easily conquered those issues during our sessions, then moved her family back to Atlanta where they had been previously. After getting settled there we resumed our coaching with Susan’s vision of having an impact on the art world in this city.
Her creative interests broadened to include photography, a passion she’d had for over 30 years that had gotten buried in the busy-ness of life, plus mixed media and sculpture including rope (as seen in this photograph). Susan studied public speaking, participated in the art world in her hometown, and utilized her skills as a masterful cook and hostess to broaden her reach. She enrolled in classes at SCAD, attended art openings, socialized, volunteered and made donations of her time, jewelry and other work on a regular basis.
Here’s the nugget I want to emphasize, and I can see Susan nodding her head in full agreement. This takes time. Susan’s heartfelt desire and intuition were to have an impact on her arts community, but to establish that is not an overnight effort. It takes time. Which Susan invested: hourly, daily, monthly, annually. It is what Susan does. She’s an artist. She’s a contributor. And, she’s a mover and shaker with ideas, the stamina to see them through and the desire to share her creative vision with a larger community.
The feature article in BuckHaven Lifestyle Magazine is the visible testament to Susan’s achievement. Take a moment to read the article about her and feast on the images of her work. I’m so proud of Susan’s persistence in achieving this enormous goal of seeing her leadership recognized.
After hanging up from my coaching call with my coach, I attended a Ladies Who Launch event in New Canaan last night to hear Jodi Kantor speak about her recent book publication The Obamas– the national bestseller she wrote that came out in January.
The book answers the questions: What happened to the couple we met in 2008? What is the effect of power? Jodi told us more about the process of writing the book and its aftermath than its content–by audience request. She said that every book has to answer a question that even the author doesn’t have the answer to.
I could have left right then and felt completely filled up. My coach, in our conversation prior to this talk, suggested I put my energies into personal subject matter for my next book and/or keynote. I loved everything she suggested, but didn’t feel like I knew where it would lead me. Then Jodi made that statement, and I felt as if the Universe was winking at me and saying, “See? You won’t know until you pursue it.”
Back to the stellar event–Jodi is a risk-taker. First, she had the courage to drop out of Harvard Law School to pursue journalism. After covering the Obamas for the New York Times, she took a leave of absence from that venerable institution in order to write this book. In retrospect it’s easy to see how much sense that all makes. But think of your own journeys and how uncharted the territory ahead can seem. Jodi’s choices were courageous.
She explained to us that The Obamas was an ‘embargoed’ book, meaning that NO ONE read it before the pub date. What happened after its publication stunned her as several reviewers condemned her for portraying Michelle Obama as another angry black woman.
One thing these reviewers had in common was that they had NOT read the book. Public opinion, including the front page of the NY Post, declaimed Kantor’s volume.
Then Jon Stewart (please, entertain yourself and watch his interview by clicking the link above) had Jodi on the Daily Show and congratulated and praised her for showing Michelle Obama as the moral compass of the administration.
Things started to turn around. But not before sensitizing Kantor to the awareness of how challenging it is to be written about. It increased her empathy for all public figures–where she also now found herself. “Very fourth grade!” she told us after reading the criticisms of her book that were unfounded.
I promptly bought a copy of The Obamas and am one hundred pages in already. It’s journalistically reported combining truth and juice, because the story is really interesting.
“People have a compulsive need for the truth,” Jodi told us. I’m very glad to have heard last night’s presentation, shook Jodi’s hand and now read her words.
I’ll be introducing Joanne McCall during my webinar next Monday night as The Media Polisher. She’s making a guest appearance as a ‘visibility strategist’ and will offer her wisdom for how to maximize your air time once you get the attention of the press.
She and I just had a rehearsal. Although I’ve been aware of Joanne’s great success in the industry, it was the first time I heard her share her tips, and I am very excited to be introducing her to you during my class on June 18th.
She has a way of succinctly summarizing an issue and offering sound advice for how to overcome obstacles. As a sneak preview, I’ll share with you that she will make suggestions for desensitizing yourself to how you look and sound on camera. It’s sage advice and will save you from embarrassment and amateurism. You do not want to miss her segment.
On June 21 I’ll be guest-hosting Joanne’s free webinar on the subject of maximizing media opportunities. You’ll be receiving details about that soon.