Thursday, February 25, 2016

Signs you are on the right track

Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?  We all struggle with this – and it is not just when you are young.  Some of us are still asking that question and are unclear on the answer.

Last night we had the launch of the One Red Lipstick book, a project I had been involved in as the editor.  The stories are of 24 entrepreneurial women who have been there and back, and still navigated their way to achieve success on their own terms.  

 Not only was there a sense of pride and accomplishment last night, but the launch  served to remind me of why I love what I am doing and how my plans for the future are taking me in the right direction.  So I’d like to share how I know this is right and perhaps then you can check whether you too are on the right path.

Pay attention to your reactions.   There’s a glow.   Your face lights up when you talk about your plans.  Your eyes shine brightly.  There’s a contagious enthusiasm about what you are doing and saying.   Several people, for example, remarked that I looked so relaxed and excited.

When you speak it all comes naturally.   The words flow, there’s no script because you are speaking from the heart.  Apart from the names of the people I had to introduce last night, I had no notes and no trouble telling people who they were and what they’d done.

You meet the right people who can help you achieve your goals.  It’s more than being in the right place at the right time.  It’s serendipity.  When you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, it all starts to fall into place.   And part of that synchronicity is that you are aware of what you want to do, so your antenna are up, and you are more open to new people and new ideas.

You share your plans and ideas and say them out loud.  In doing so, you are actually making a public commitment to yourself that you will do what you are planning to do.

The theme of the evening was resilience and courage.  It takes courage to walk through the challenges in life, but without the tenacity to stick with it, learn and move on, we’d all be stuck in a place where we don’t want to stay.

Last night I made my announcement that I am starting a publishing company so I can help others get their message and stories out into the world.   I said it out loud and already, can you believe, already would-be authors are coming forward.  Who knew?

Life is pretty cool when you are willing to open new doors for yourself.   I have no idea where this new venture of mine will take me, but I know that starting it up is adding a bounce to my step as it combines all that I love – writing, books, and people.

Just think of all the book launches I can organize – always a party gal, I just love bringing people together. And no, I am not giving up Company of Women, just expanding what we do.

If you are at a crossroads, dig deep.  What do you enjoy doing?  What makes your heart sing?   

While the stories in the book vary,  one thing the women have in common, is they didn’t let the stuff of life hold them back, they dusted themselves off and moved forward. 

And you can too.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Will I ever learn??

It’s Thursday morning and my blog should be written and posted.

It’s not.  

I’ve been sick all week – oh nothing serious, just your common cold, but it’s amazing how low you can get.

So I have been trying to look after myself.  

Novel idea.  Slow down.  Not do so much.  

These are hard lessons for me as I am used to squeezing 26 hours into a day.

Usually my blog will focus on something I have learned or observed in the past week… hmm.   What have I learned??? 

1.              One brand of tissues is better than another

2.              Lip balm is soothing on your chapped lips.

3.              Not to go cold turkey on all the cold meds at once.

4.              A cold lasts seven days or a week no matter what you take.

5.              Food isn’t the same when you can’t taste it

6.              Reading a juicy murder mystery is distracting and I should do it more often.

7.              Life carries on, whether I am at meetings or not. 

So this morning I venture out, for the first time in a week.  My first concern is whether, in this cold weather, my car will start and I will get to my meeting, but if I don’t, I guess I should remember point #7.

Of course, the biggest lesson in all this, is not to push myself so hard.  But I seem to struggle with this one.    Perhaps I should pay attention.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hand in Hand into the World

A smile came across my face as I watched a group of preschoolers out for a walk, all hanging on to a rope that kept them safe and linked together.  

It brought back warm memories of when my girls were little, but it also struck me that at Company of Women we do the same.

Just as the children were holding on to the rope, you just know that if one of them fell, the group would stop, an adult would go over, pick up and

comfort the child and likewise if one of our members, stumbled, I’d like to think that we would rally round and her chapter leader would be there to provide support.

And worse case scenario, one of the children broke loose, there would be someone to go after the child and bring her back to the “fold.”

Sometimes as small business owners we can fall by the wayside,  tripping on some obstacle that seems overwhelming at the time.  I am sure we can all think of friends who are sometimes “missing in action” and who disappear when the challenges become too hard to face and share.

But perhaps that’s just when, like the teacher with the children, we need to be there.  We need to check in and gently remind the individual that there are people who care; that all of us have faced tough situations and perhaps we can help. 

And maybe we can’t,  but just knowing that you are not alone; that others have been there and survived, can reduce that sense of isolation. Your caring doesn’t go unnoticed.

We can become the safety net for each other.  Providing a safe place where you can be honest, authentic and vulnerable is what Company of Women is all about.  

It was that vulnerability that enabled the women in the One Red Lipstick book  to share their stories with us.  They are our role models, showing us the way to overcome obstacles with resilience and tenacity so we too can achieve success on our own terms.

I encourage you to look around.  Is there someone missing?  Someone who hasn’t shown up recently?  Why not check in?    We are all on a similar journey and hopefully heading in the same direction, let’s make sure we are there when someone gets lost.

As Robert Fulgham says in his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten  When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.”

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Are you being sold… or are you being served?

That was the question Marie Furfaro from Meridian asked of a group of women entrepreneurs.  Now she was referring to financial institutions where often the focus is on making a sale, as staff having quotas to reach.    Imagine the change in your relationship if you thought the person was there to help you, not sell you something, something you likely don’t need.

But isn’t this true of any business, not just banks?  When you have the needs of your clients first and centre,  you get so much further – in your relationship, in your “conversion rates” etc… Now it does have to be sincere.  Women, in particular, have a built-in radar – we can detect the phony.

When I think of networking, to me it is all about building relationships.  At Company of Women I don’t encourage what I call the business card shuffle where the person’s goal is to hand out and collect as many business cards as possible.  

That’s just a sham.  To me that’s transactional networking – the person is there for the sale, nothing more.  It’s all about them.

While you may buy something once, you are less likely to come back.  Why would you?  We all like to be treated as we treat others, and if you are pushy and aggressive in your approach, I suspect you will scare people away.

Whereas if you take a genuine interest in the person, what they need and are looking for, they are more likely to make a purchase and better still, refer their friends to you.

Getting back to the banking topic.  It struck me that wouldn’t it be lovely if you had a bank manager that cared.  I have been at the same bank for 15 years since I started my business.  I don’t know who the bank manager is, although in fairness, an overture was made a few years ago.  Just as well I never wanted a line of credit, I wouldn’t have known who to ask.

What impressed me most about Marie’s talk is when she said that she asks for her clients’ business cards – not just one – but a stack – so if she meets someone who would be useful to your business – she can pass it on.

Now that’s entrepreneurial.  That’s how business and networking works.  You make connections, referrals and look at ways you can help each other.

And liking her approach, that’s why I’ve asked her to run a Biz Tools session at our conference on May 17.    Other women entrepreneurs need to hear about her refreshing approach.  She makes you expect more.  More from your bank, more from your small business manager, and more for yourself