Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lessons from the Latina Chamber Lunch

I went to an inspiring lunch on Thursday. The Latina Chamber of Commerce in Denver is an organization whose mission is to promote and advance the personal, professional, and business interests of Latinas, their families, and their communities. Although this organization is merely five years old, already it has accomplished much in the way of educating and empowering members of its community.

This Inspirational Business Luncheon featured dynamic speaker, David Behr of Competitive Edge Seminars. In his high-energy and very entertaining presentation-such an enviable skill- David advised us to take just one idea home with us. But I cheated, and took them all.

Just as teachers use homework to reiterate and reinforce what they teach in class, I’m going to reiterate what I learned and hope that it reinforces those lessons in my own head; who knows, you might benefit too...

#1 change one thing in your business practice (or any other practice for that matter) and it will cause a domino effect. By changing one thing, we can be more, have more, and become more. I like that.

#2 put a number to your goal. If we’re talking about money, how much do we want to earn this year. How many sales will it take to meet that goal. Then how many people do we need to talk to every day? Put it in writing. And if you want to make more, either talk to more people or improve your technique, so that it doesn’t take you 20 meetings to achieve one sale. Makes sense.

#3 the Pareto Principle. 20% of customers lead to 80% of revenue. Since 20% of things we do make 80% of the difference, then we need to know what those 20% of things are and we need to do them really well!

I'm constantly debating the question: who are my customers? Are they our members…or the companies and organizations that we need to serve so that they will advertise on the site? Well, in my mind, the members are my customers…and I have to hope that by serving them well, ultimately, I will serve the organizations that want to reach them. If that is the case, then the things that we need to do very well are: ensure that members feel valued, provide them with information, and enable them to connect with each other.

Back to David.

#4 the value that you provide to customers has to be higher than what it costs them to get it.

#5 “Go for No”. It's a concept that reminds me a bit of the glass that's half full. The idea is to figure out how many nos there are for every yes. Then every time you get a no answer, you feel good because you’re that much closer to getting a yes. Nice.

#6 Or turn a “no” into “know”. By educating a prospective customer (or in our case, member), we can overcome her objections, and turn the no into a yes!

#7 Another way to get to yes is to turn the tables, and ask the questions. (This reiterates what I learned in last week’s self-defense class). The one asking the questions is the one who is in control. Find out what the prospective client (member) is doing now, what they enjoy about it, what they would alter, whether they’re the decision-maker (make sure the person that you’re meeting is a decision-maker, in other words, don’t take NO from someone who can’t say YES), and what solution would address the question of what they would alter. Think the acronym NEADS.

#8 & #9 two more quickies… People are more likely to make a decision that takes away pain, than one that gets pleasure. And help those that want it, not just those who need it.

In closing, I emphasize what David said in opening. If something is easy to do, just do it!

These are not new ideas, but they're all great reminders... and motivators.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Balance- Is it bologna?

As we stand on bosu balls and throw weighted balls back and forth at the end of pilates class, Lisa reminds us that our balance is the first thing to go as we age. She also says that by working on it, we can not only preserve, but even improve it.

I wonder to myself if it’s the same thing with mental and emotional balance. Can it be improved if I actually practice it? If I begin to make it a priority, something that I pay attention to at the end of every day, the same way that Lisa has us practice balance at the end of every class, do you think that I can actually create a balanced life?

Hmmm. Frankly, I have decided that anyone who says that her life is in balance must be either 1) full of bologna, 2) boring beyond words or 3) probably a little selfish. Which begs the question, is being boring, full of bologna or a bit selfish worth it if it allows you to claim balance?

What if I did meditate daily, declined all evening invitations, gave up caffeine, and decided that my dance card was full enough? Would I enjoy life more? Could I still make a difference in the world?

Believe me, I realize that my “hard drive is full” (memory must go right after balance). But maybe, I can keep fooling my brain for a while longer. Maybe like the printer or a tired sharpie, by giving it a short rest, it will muster enough ink for another doc.

I declare Sunday my day of rest…which means I sit on the chaise to type instead of at my desk. And I don’t leave the house except for a pedicure or a meal or a walk. Instead of looking for balance at the end (or beginning) of every day, I will make it a weekly practice. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Money is Funny

Money is funny. Actually it just makes people act funny. Not funny-ha-ha, but funny like a “funny uncle”- so, in other words, not funny at all.

I have started this post so many times, and every time I head off on a different tangent. I finally realized that there are a lot of different things to say about money. And they can’t all be said at once. I want to think about, write about and talk about them all… but will do it one thought and post at a time.

My latest observation came about at a fancy-shmancy kick-off event (for a fancy-shmancy spring event) that I attended the other day to promote MidChix. I had barely made it downtown after my second day in a row of back-to-back meetings & appointments, not to mention picking up kids, overseeing homework, paying the bass teacher, unearthing the inhaler, preparing the bookmarks & biscotti, and finding parking.

Although I was dressed in my “dress” jeans (they sport a crease!), a new scarf, and my very Denver-ish boots (from Nordstrom no less), I was nowhere near attired as nicely as I could’ve/should’ve been. But I had done my best, given the day. And as my mother-in-law often quips “it didn’t make me a bad person”.

Yet it was fascinating to see how quickly people judge…and frightening to see how some women act when they are out strutting their stuff. Even though I was a sponsor of the event, and had promised to do at least as much as anyone else in terms of promoting the future real fancy-shmancy event, I was asked more than once if I was an employee of the shop, as well as queried on who had invited me.

Believe me, I plead guilty to being impressed at times by the appearance of money. But what impresses me most are the folks that have lots of jack, but no sign of ass.
My mother always taught me that the most important job for a hostess was making her guests feel at home. I will try to always remember that, even if MidChix makes millions.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On a Wing and a Prayer

Searching for a slogan is not as easy as one would think. But it sure is fun! We ran through quite a few options before throwing caution to the wind and giving Facebook the bird (see photo of our billboard)!

Maybe that’s what being a Midchick is about. Getting to that place where you decide it’s okay to throw caution to the wind. Let’s face it, most of us have been pretty cautious in many ways for many years. Cautious to not make the teacher mad, break our new toy, whisper in church, to not spill on our new dress, or let the boys see our underpants on the swings, to not let the other girls know our feelings were hurt, or get caught smoking, to not be considered a prude, not get pregnant, to not dent the fender of Dad’s car, fail the algebra test, wear the wrong shoes, or let our disappointment show when we were stood up on our first date, to not get in with the wrong crowd, be considered too eager, or drink too much, talk too much, eat too much, cry too much, to not laugh too hard, to not gossip or be the gossip topic, to not flirt with our friend's crush, to not blow the callback interview. We’ve been cautious not to marry the wrong guy, say the wrong thing, eat the wrong food, resent the baby, resent the husband, resent our mother, admit that we’re gay, neurotic, bored, sad or angry.

I am reminded of the Winnie the Pooh poem “Now We Are Six”… I remember such a big deal being made about that magic age. I thought it meant that at 6, I had made it. Little did I know it would take me another 42 years to really make it to this wonderful place where I can be me with no apology.

So we at MidChix say: If you’ve got hooters, then we’ve got wings for you, don’t be chicken, join us for some fowl play, we promise you cheep flights because 40 means free the birds, we are ladies launchin’ and you can be too, amaze yourself with web feats…you can be assured that peckers are prohibited because we don’t allow cocks in the henhouse-

Smile to yourself, throw caution to the wind, give Facebook the bird, and join, for birds of a feather.

P.S. It’s just a slogan, I love Facebook…you can be my friend there too if you like!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hard Day

I had one of those days. It started around 6:15 PM yesterday, so I am hoping that it is now over, just like the 24 hour flu. But it prompted me to bitch and moan, and inventory a bunch of my personal pet peeves. Somehow writing them down really does make you feel better! So Read 'Em and Peep...I want to hear yours too!

PS. Remember, it was a bad day. I don't want anyone playing devil's advocate. That's what my hubby is for...

Pet Peeves

1) Bikers/runners/bladers/boarders/dogwalkers who go the wrong way down a one way street.
2) Toilets that flush while you are still sitting.
3) Phone answering system limbo.
4) Forms that ask for the same information more than once.
5) Public restrooms with toiletpaper rolls too heavy for the one-ply paper and therefore rips after every square.
6) People that splash when they pee and don’t wipe up.
7) People that splash when they wash and don’t wipe up.
8) Litterers.
9) People who don’t recycle, even when it’s easy.
10) Car alarms.
11) Spitting.
12) People who let little kids run around in restaurants.
13) Men who stare at boobs.
14) Men who make catcalls.
15) Police officers who point speed radar guns at cars.
16) Laundry that has been taken off inside out.
17) Voicemail messages that are so long, you have to switch ears.
18) Cashiers that don’t say hello.
19) Customers that don’t say hello.
20) Children that don’t talk to adults.
21) The sound of landscapers blowing nature to kingdom come.
22) Folks that don't return emails/calls.
23) Debbie Downers (don't even think about calling me one-its just a blog post for god's sake).
24) Gratuitous violence in media.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thank god February is only 28 Days

When I picked up my ten year-old from school today and he said his stomach hurt, I actually turned around and looked at him. I mean the kid is not stupid. Usually the time for moaning and clutching of one's stomach falls in the hour between 7 and 8 AM, when chances are I will blanch at the memory of last year when I sent him to school anyway and he barfed in between main lesson and recess. When we arrived home today, and he didn't make a beeline for the freezer drawer where I stash the single serve Haagen Daz, I knew it was time to worry.

Actually, it's a hell of a lot easier now and a far cry from the days when 4 kids under 6, and a traveling spouse made the stomach flu a historic event...

"Mom, I just threw up" must be the most dreaded words in the English language, especially at 4:15 in the AM. "It got on the bed", a close second. Within nanoseconds of hearing that someone had thrown up, I'd begin obsessively projecting the course of the next 21 days; the number of kids times a 2 day incubation period=34 loads of laundry, 45 hours of lost sleep, and at least 3 weeks 'til friends would risk being within 10 feet of us again...

Now that all of the kids are old enough to make it to the bathroom, and now that my husband has made enough of an appearance during at least a few rounds to know that chances for a little romance, much less a home-cooked meal are slim at best...the stomach bug isn't nearly as grueling as it used to be!

My best friend has an all-out phobia of vomit. We laugh 'til we cry about the time she practically held her 7-year old out the window by his ankle while careening towards home while, all the while, he hollered "I think I'm going to throw up!" She hurried not to get him to a bathroom, but just to the house where she could hand him off. Her husband has always drawn the short straw when it comes to clean up!

I admire my sister-in-law's approach. Raised by a military dad, she is very matter-of -fact. Even when her kids were barely vertical, she had a policy that everyone had a "burp bucket". Don't wake her up! Even better was her theory about whining: If a child is whining, he is hungry, tired, or sick. As a result, her kids were always either eating, sleeping, or barfing.

There has always seemed to be something about the month of February that has conjured the stomach bug. Since I'm committed to my New Year's Resolution to "be grateful", I'm dubbing the bug "Drastic but Effective Diet" and can hardly wait...

Monday, February 8, 2010

When Our Kids Grow Up

Ten years ago I read Katrina Kenison's Mitten Strings for God-Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry, and was thrilled by the thoughts of a Mom who reminded me so much of myself. In time, I began to realize that she probably reminded almost every other mother of themselves as well. And somehow it was easier to accept advice from one of our own. By sharing her personal search for some elusive balance during the early years, she encouraged me- and many others- to stay the course, even when our seesaws were wildly out of control.

Motherhood is a uniquely universal experience. What mama cannot empathize with tales of sleep-deprivation, toddler tantrums, sibling wars, finicky eaters, birthday burnout, bathroom talk, middle school misery, and teenage angst? How I envy today's Mommy Bloggers for the opportunity to survive those early trials by sharing them!

But Katrina's bird's eye view of childhood and motherhood transcends the anecdotal.
Although I have only read the excerpts and watched this poignant video of her reading, I am struck by Katrina's uncanny ability to once again sum up the flood of feelings that are part and parcel of motherhood. The Gift of an Ordinary Day promises to strike chords deep within that will continue resonating long after the book is put down.

I remind myself when I wearily tuck my youngest into bed, that this is as fleeting as the light of the firefly he caught at dusk. His sisters and brothers have all grown up and are past tucking in. Looking down at his small, sweet face, I reel with the understanding that I am still the most important person in his world. I am grateful for the knowledge that he will grow up just like his siblings did, because knowing that means I will savor these moments in ways I didn't know I should have back then.

Motherhood is an experience like no other. There have been moments when I could barely breathe I was so filled with anxiety over a child. There have been others when I wondered if one could actually burst with pride. A few years ago, I came up with a strategy for those days when the word 'failure' seemed like a generous way to describe my mothering. I'd think about every single child I had ever met, and imagined discovering another who I'd trade mine for. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find a single one.

I reflect on the times when my teens are sullen, rude, entitled, untrustworthy, unappreciative, and worst of all, unknowable. Those years are excruciating. How to believe that they will, this late in the game, actually emerge whole and whole-hearted? But they do. Really. And the feeling is like having your best childhood friend move in next door. It is joyful, and this time it is not fleeting.

Mothers who read Katrina's book will share knowing nods and will treasure her reflections. They will remind them, like me, that even though mothering comes to an end, motherhood goes on forever and it is a gift just like an ordinary day.

The Sweet Song of a Mama Bird

This beautiful video made my heart stop...can't we all relate to the many memories and musings of another mama chick. Watch and weep. Look for my coming post about her book!

Monday, February 1, 2010


At midnight (East Coast time) I will be celebrating my oldest child's 21st birthday at a small local bar in the Philadelphia burbs. (Fortunately, back in my day, we didn't have to wait so long to get a drink!)

Twenty-one is the same age I was when I met her dad. The night had begun in a resort bingo hall, progressed to an unplanned double date, and ended on a blanket on the beach with a 6-pack of beer...where we primly sat and discussed the weather, while our two best friends made racket behind the next dune. I knew that night, that Phil was a keeper.

Believe me, he wasn't all perfection. On our second date (can a table shared in the dormitory cafeteria be called a date?), while carefully cutting the gristle off his Salisbury steak, he noted, "If there's one thing I hate, it's fat on my meat and fat on my women." I practically choked on my sour cream and cheese-topped potato. Next thing you know, I had designed my own rapid weight-loss plan; it consisted of tuna, grapefruit juice, and vodka. (Try it sometime; it worked wonders!)

But the fact that he—a healthy, horny college kid—did not try to take advantage of a blanket on a beach with a blonde full of beer, told me something about him that he never would have been able to put into words. And I don't think it was just some priest from high school haunting him. As I look back now, I wonder if the respect he demonstrated that night, came from a place deep within his DNA, and if that is from where his evolution, as both a man and a human being, has emanated.

Phil has always had very high standards: for himself, for me, for our children, for his employees, for his friends. He is conservative and traditional; a comfort-loving, perfection-addicted, Budweiser-guzzling, obsessive-compulsive sports fanatic. A guy's guy. He is also sentimental to the point of crying at Father of the Bride—even if it's his seventh viewing. And he loves our family in a way that is visceral.

While for many people, love is about their own experience of it, for Phil, his love is about our experience of it. In other words, he cares enough about each of us, that he is willing to put our feelings ahead of his own. Or at least that is the essence of his evolution. He'd blanch to hear me compare him to JFK. But as I contemplate what it is that sets Phil apart from the majority of men that I know, it is his rare willingness to ask not what we can do for him, but what he can do for us. That, I think, is the definition of unconditional love.

My husband loves me enough to not just listen, but to hear. He loves his children enough to reconsider his opinions, to accept their differences, and to educate others about doing the same. He loves us in a way that is about us, not about him.

Maybe it is from that place deep within his DNA that this ability springs. It makes me wonder if we all possess the ability to love without condition. If so, then why do we so rarely see it in men; even more to the point, what is it that motivated my spouse to turn those sleepy cells on by tackling the hard work of self-analysis and the putting on of another's shoes?

I wish I knew, so that I could bottle this gift and give it away to my friends, my enemies, their children, and my children. Just imagine what the world would be like if we all embraced each other the way that he has embraced us. I am in awe of the man that he has become. (Of course, he still pisses me off sometimes...but that's another blog!)