You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘women business owners’ category.
“I’m killing myself!”
“I’m going at breakneck speed.”
I recognize that these expressions are intended to demonstrate some kind of value in the marketplace, or on the domestic scene, but from the ‘taken-out-of-context’ perspective, read what these words are expressing.
Is this really what you want in your life? Is this the message you want to be putting out there and hearing yourself say? Does it sound familiar?
Right now I’m none of the above, and I’m okay with it. I consider myself to still be in transition from the end of a marriage two years ago and relocating to New York City last fall. Although I’m one who enjoys having a full plate, I’m learning to be with the peace and open space that being “not busy” creates.
I’ll never forget meeting a woman with a cast on her foot. When I asked her what had caused the injury, she said that for weeks she’d been saying, “I need a break! I need a break!” Walking out to her mailbox one morning, she tripped on a pebble and broke her ankle.
What message are you affirming to the Universe, and is it the one you want heard?
In my spiritual fellowship, where meetings are the primary source of connection and inspiration, I’ve often heard this expression: If you’re too busy to go to meetings, you’re too busy.
Does this apply to you?
The ‘impostor syndrome’ came up recently in a group I was leading. One member, who by the way had recently received major recognition in the media, described that less-than feeling she was experiencing. I encouraged her to share her feelings, because they’re real, painful and need an outlet. But I also wanted her to know that she was not alone. I asked if anyone else in the room ever felt that way. EVERY hand went up, including mine.
The best method I have for overcoming or dealing with envy of the competition is to drill down to what it is about their business model you wish was yours and use that information to grow your own company.
In my book Soul Proprietor, Lesson 9 is: In changing what is into what can be, we learn what we need to know.
That issue came up big time for me when I was first exhibiting my artwork. The jewelry display, and its proprietor across the aisle from my booth, were the objects of my jealousy. Not only did she have an elaborate set-up with brown ultrasuede walls dripping with her masterpieces, she also had a mob of women with fistfuls of money seeking her attention and products. There were other sales people in her booth helping her. In short, she had everything I wanted, but with a different craft and more experience.
That didn’t mean anything to me. I wanted instant recognition and fortune. Who doesn’t?
After a bout of unrewarded pouting, I began to analyze what it was she was doing and how she may have achieved her success. I had time on my hands as my booth was not busy at all giving me time to think and plan. Of course, you’ll have to read the lesson yourself for the details, but suffice it to say, my methodology worked. I became successful and stopped looking over my shoulder.
The impostor syndrome doesn’t go away, but now I can recover from it much faster or ask myself the question: Is that really what I want? The answers are changing.
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.
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’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 had the privilege of being the opening presenter at the Make.Art.Work series back in January. My topic, my specialty, was goal-setting. I got to be with the artists enrolled in the sessions held in Fairfield, New Haven and Hartford. I challenged them to come up with a pie-in-the-sky opportunity that would change their lives forever. We had dynamic interchanges and commitments to take the next right action in the direction of that dream.
On Sunday I had the good fortune to run into two of the artists who had attended. One of them, Lisa Keskinen, was exhibiting her art at a gallery in Cornwall, CT. Among her pieces was a mock-up of a public art installation that she had ‘dreamed up’ during my session. I was beyond thrilled to hear that it was in progress.
Attending her show that morning was Amelia de Neergaard who filled me in on what’s been happening since she attended my class this winter. I asked her to write up what she’d been doing, and she kindly obliged. I believe her response will be inspiring and informative to anyone who ever gets stuck:
At your workshop, I made the goal to develop a website before March 1st, something I’ve been intending to do for a couple of years. Deciding which company to use–there are several that offer templates for art portfolio websites–was the first hurdle. Finding one that allowed you to customize it so it didn’t look like all the others was next. Checked out wordpress–lots of customizable variations but need to learn how to use it. Signed up for lynda.com. Sat for 2 hours just learning how to link the domain name to the website. There’s got to be an easier way, besides hiring someone to do it (cost is a factor, and as a former graphic designer, I want to learn how to do it myself).
In the meantime, out of a need to accomplish something more quickly, I decided to look at some of the artist residencies I was considering applying to. A deadline of March 1st was for the Haystack Open Studio Residency, a new, free program for artists who want to work on their own in beautiful studios overlooking the ocean in Deer Isle, Maine. I’d been there several times in the past to take a workshop in a specific media, usually paper making or fiber-based sculpture. The “open studio” in the title means that you can explore different media and work in one or a variety of studios– printmaking, metals, ceramics, fiber or wood.
I knew that I thrive in this environment, having worked 12 hours a day in past years, energized by the challenge and inspiration of this community of artists. No menial chores, no distractions, and wonderful food served three times a day. I applied: uploaded images, references, statements, resume, etc–and three weeks later was informed that I was accepted!
Another perk was seeing that the list of selected artists included two highly accomplished artists whose work I have admired and had considered taking workshops with in the past.I’ve been reading your blog off and on for several years, and appreciate your words of wisdom. “Start from where you are” is my favorite and gave me permission to ignore the myriad inner voices that try to tear me down– “I’m not good enough, I’m too old, I don’t have time…”
Lately I have been applying for grants and shows more often, and succeeding, much to my surprise. I’ve been letting my passions carry me, and not letting my fears control me. This has been a gradual climbing out of a very “stuck” place. When I finally got unstuck and took action, well, things started moving forward. I am also realizing that I have to learn to set goals and recognize dreams. Too many years of relying on somebody else to make decisions and set goals, left me just going from task to task, and helping others fulfill their dreams.
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.
She’s the author of The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life, and a great speaker. She presented some astonishing facts–that Baby Boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day, and that we’re heading toward a world where there are more walkers (as in the metal kind) than strollers!
Marci shared some of her own story. I had read her columns in the NYTimes where she was a highly paid (by her own admission) freelancer. And how, in 2008, she was shockingly let go despite the popularity of her blog. In publicly sharing that story in the Times, she received an outpouring of response signaling her to investigate this trend–figuring out what to do next– more deeply and leading her down the path of Encore Careers.
That’s a smidgen of the day’s events. Read more about BA50 on their website.
More Magazine featured entrepreneur Phylise Sands, the owner of Red Daisy, and her journey to success. If you’d like a realistic and sobering story about the ins and outs of bringing a product to market, read her story in the April issue.
My favorite parts were about her soliciting the aid of a famous lingerie designer, Roslyn Harte who, at first, turned down the offer to help this start-up. And I mean turned down: 20 times. Would YOU have had the courage to continue making that call? Phylise did.
All start-up companies are really a pain.
was Harte’s reaction. Until she discovered that Red Daisy had a give-back component that spoke to her heart–breast cancer research.
Along the way, Sands learned many lessons, like expanding her product line beyond one fabulous sports bra. “Three bras does not a company-with-market-presence make,” she advised.
Ms. Harte also alerted this new business owner to the fact that retailers stay away from new companies because of “control issues, delivery problems, and [their tendency] to go out of business.”
That wasn’t the case for Red Daisy. Orders came in, but she did face delivery problems from her manufacturer, which she handled one call at a time.
Stories like these, which celebrate the owner while shedding light on the challenges, are the most inspiring to me. No one has smooth sailing from conception to market. It’s good to hear what really happens. We all have our battle scars, but they’re not always shone the light of day.
I appreciate MORE sharing this satisfying story of success. I hope it encourages you to go the extra mile today.
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!