Monthly Archives: August 2012

Analisa Balares – Woman of the Week

When you meet Analisa Balares, you are drawn to her gentle energy. She’s a small woman, soft-spoken, constantly in motion, and busy making huge things happen in the world. A few years from now, when she’s ensured that women have come into their full power and are running the world, I will not be at all surprised.
This is from the Womensphere website:

Analisa Leonor Balares is an emerging global leader dedicated to unleashing women’s potential, and advancing the evolution of women as leaders and innovators around the world. She is a community builder, social innovator, global entrepreneur, and mentor. For over two decades, she has been committed to women’s leadership development, sustainable development, entrepreneurship, innovation, and education, and has produced, directed, and co-produced over 100 summits, forums, and media on these themes.

In February 2008, Analisa created and launched Womensphere, a unique leadership community and global social enterprise that convenes, mobilizes, and creates platforms for action – uniting individuals, companies, networks, academic institutions, and NGOs, around the shared purpose of unleashing women’s potential and enabling the evolution of women as leaders, innovators and creators in our global society. The Womensphere global leadership community inspires, connects, and empowers women leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, policymakers, scientists, artists, financiers, and pioneering women across all fields. Since its founding, Womensphere has reached, convened and connected over 3,500 leaders through 22 conferences, forums, and media in the United States and Europe.

I have attended several Womensphere Summits and have met the most incredible, inspiring collection of women, ranging from Caitlin Kelly, the 30-something founder of Africa Volunteer Corps and Jessica Posner, Co-Founder at 25 of Shining Hope for Communities, a non-profit that combats extreme poverty and gender inequality in Kibera – Africa’s largest slum through Angela Jia Kim, founder of Savor the Success, through Linda Cureton,CIO for NASA, Jill Tarter of SETI, and too many others to possibly list.

As Womensphere grows to include opportunities for female CEOs to come together, international events, multiple media initiatives, so too will the visibility of amazing women and the opportunities for them to meet with and learn from each other.

Analisa is a great enabler, a big thinker, and a woman who knows all things are possible. How do you embody these traits in your life and work?

Butterflies, Joy and Change

I’ve seen a few Monarchs floating through Brooklyn this week. If you’re lucky enough to live on the New Jersey shore, you’re likely to see many more flitting by around now. They’re beautiful and I always hold my breath for a second as I watch them.

I’m in the process of emerging from my own chrysalis right now, so I have a lot to learn from butterflies. And they’ve been following me around lately, just to remind me! The lesson of the butterfly, it turns out, is letting go of old behavior and moving on to the next phase.

Moving on is not easy – at least for me. I like to dig in and hold on. I remember reading that for every successful woman you could see the fingernail scratches on the furniture where she’d tried to hang on to the old, and I know that’s true for me. Change doesn’t come easy.

But then I look at how beautiful the butterfly is. Maybe change is worth it. Butterflies float on the breeze; they dance in the air. They don’t cling to the branches or hug the ground. Butterflies always look like they’re having a good time. Can you watch one without smiling? They bring joy. They are joy.

I’m almost ready for my butterfly moment. I’m ready to push out of the shelter of that chrysalis, where I’ve been growing and stretching and absorbing energy over many months. I’ve moved out of a toxic business relationship. I’ve returned to full mobility, thanks to the wonders of hip replacement. I’m ditching my old business model.

Right now, my wings aren’t quite dry and I’m a bit shaky, but I know that is changing. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Woman of the Week: Phyllis Diller

It takes guts to get up on a stage. It takes persistence, intelligence, and a pretty thick skin to become a comedic icon. In her 1997 book, “Queens of Comedy,” Susan Horowitz called Phyllis Diller “a significant figure in American culture who rose to success through her wickedly self-mocking style.”

“The self-deprecation made her more endearing, more comfortable for people,” Horowitz said. “Everything she did was for the purpose of getting ahead.”

Diller’s move into comedy began out of necessity as much as anything else. Poor and unhappy, she would meet other poor and unhappy women at the Laundromat and regale them with accounts of her home life. Soon, she was being asked to give presentations at parties and P.T.A. meetings.

Her husband thought she should be paid to make people laugh. She initially lacked the confidence to do it. “The Magic of Believing” by Claude M. Bristol gave her the confidence to begin to write her own comedy routines, hired a drama coach to give her more stage presence, and take whatever paid or unpaid performing jobs she could get.

Her rise to fame and continued success were the product of a carefully-constructed persona; seemingly unattractive, mocking day-to-day life, Diller found a way to be non-threatening in an age when few women comics existed. Joan Rivers credits her as a mentor as she built her own career on some of the elements that made Diller such a success.

Why is Phyllis Diller the woman of the week? Strength; courage; grit; humor; hard work; brilliance.

Who will be the next woman of the week? It could be you. If you’re a successful woman who has changed direction and built a new career, I’d love to interview you! Let me know.

Move On!

How often do you make a decision and then second-guess yourself? Some of us over think everything. We make a decision, we’re comfortable with it, we take action. Should be the end of the story, right? Not for everyone.

Sometimes, though, it’s easy to get caught up in the other choices – the road not taken. What if? What if? What if?

It’s time to chase those gremlins off. Here are some questions that might be more productive:

1.What would have stayed the same or gotten worse if I did not make the choice I did? How would I feel about that?

2. How would I feel if I continued along the same path? About myself? Abut other people? About my work?

3. What did I learn from this choice? About myself? My process? Others involved?

4. How will I use what I learned moving forward?

5. What have I gained?

These seem like a good start at letting go and moving on. I’ll be using them myself.

It’s August – Come Back Later

August, in general, is hazy, hot and humid. In many European countries, almost everyone is on vacation. Sounds like a good idea to me!

I don’t think that I’m unusual in being eternally locked into the academic calendar. I start winding down in June, have some ambition in July, even as I begin to fill my calendar with festivals and free events, and just plain run out of steam in August. I’m caught somewhere between a frantic push to be sure I’ve had enough summer fun and an overwhelming desire to do absolutely nothing. Right now, doing nothing is winning.

In September, I’ll be rejuvenated. I’ll replace my office supplies and get all my projects lined up. I’ll be energized. I might even have a “first day of school” outfit to wear even if I’ll be wearing it in my home office.

But right now, it’s August and I’m appreciating the continued good performance of my air conditioner. There are watermelon slices and heirloom tomatoes to be eaten. Painted toenails to display. Street fairs. Popsicles. Trips to the beach. Outside cafes. Oh – and daydreaming. I plan to do a lot of daydreaming for the next couple of weeks.

August dreams, in my experience, often become September projects. So, I will write down or create voice memos to capture these dreams.

I plan to be very productive – right after Labor Day. For now, could you please pass the sunscreen and maybe pour another margarita?

Free Fall and Progress Paralysis

How many times have you heard variations on the saying that when you reach the end of all you know you will develop wings and fly? Yeah, but there’s still that first step. And that can be a doozy! And positively paralyzing.

Sitting in the corner with a box of chocolates seems sooooo tempting! So many reality shows, so little time. This might be a good time to move up the scale a bit. Perhaps, the next step is something I call meaningless productivity. You might call it busy work.

Keep the chocolates. Don’t even turn off the television. Above all, don’t think. Sort, declutter, clean. The first sort is simply to get rid of junk. Life is easier when you are not surrounded by piles-o-stuff. As you open up living space, you are also opening up space to think.

Do you feel your muscles getting ready to move? Not quite yet? Maybe you need to wallow a little more. When you start noticing that you’re watching reruns of reality shows you saw last week, it’s time to step up your game.

Go slow! This is rehab. Go for a walk. Cook yourself a good meal. Allow your mind to wander through all the things you might possibly do next. You can still spend a lot of time on the couch, but maybe it’s time to trade up to PBS or political satire shows. You should still sort, but this round will be a work-related sort. Where are all of those projects you have started? Where are all of those idea files that you have been keeping for years? Find them now!

Sort your ideas and projects into three piles. The first pile is, “What was I thinking?” the second pile is,”Not so much.” The third pile has you starting to bounce in your chair just a bit. You actually think you might want to do something. You are beginning to see a future.

If you watch a cat in free fall, it seems paralyzed for the first few seconds. It does nothing. Then,it does a seemingly miraculous mid-stream correction. It lands beautifully on all four paws. You can do it too! You are ready to land with both feet planted firmly on the ground. You are ready to go on to the next phase of your life!

Forgiven and Forgotten

I have come to the end of what has turned out to be an unproductive business relationship. It started out beautifully, as so many relationships do. We had dreams. We had high hopes. We thought that we had thought this through carefully.

So here’s what we didn’t have. We didn’t have a contract. We didn’t have a business plan. Most important though, we didn’t have clear communication. And we never worked hard enough at establishing this all-important tool.

But that’s a topic for another post. Today, I’m thinking about moving on. Unfortunately, as the partnership devolved, the friendship also diminished. I’m sure there’s much to be said on both sides. For me, though, forgetting is the most important task on my list.

The old truism is forgive and forget. I’m working on forgiven and forgotten. When thereis someone you don’t want in your life, why would you want them in your head? I’ve forgiven myself for errors in judgment. I’ve forgiven myself for holding expectations that might still have been unrealistic even if (I forgive myself) I had expressed them. I’ve forgiven my former partner for wrongs. Oth real and perceived.

Now, I want her to be forgotten. I want to remember and use the lessons I’ve learned, but I don’t want to ever think a out her again except perhaps a fond memory or two about our initial encounters, decades removed from this venture. I wish that the self–work around this was as simple as unfriending her on facebook. For the next month or so, I will pause and shift focus if she drifts into my thoughts. Thanks to my buddy coach, I’ve used. Isualizations to let go of resentment and will work through possible guilt, second-guessing and worrying possible mistakes like a terrier with a one.

Forgive and forget? Not so much. Forgive yourself and anyone else involved. Then do the harder work beyond forgiven to get to forgotten.